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Power of prayer can evoke change

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Two weeks ago, I wrote to you quite strongly about the dignity of marriage and its profound rejection by our worldly, pleasure-seeking culture. I reminded you of the clear teachings of our Lord about adultery and lust. I pointed out how great is God’s mercy; while we, for our part, must try to cooperate with his grace by rejecting our sins, because when we still intend to commit sins, we are in fact rejecting his mercy. I urged you to pray for the upcoming extraordinary synod which begins in Rome this Sunday, and to pray for families. And I urged you to recommit to living your vocation with fidelity and joy, because it is through our daily witness and sacrifice that we proclaim God’s mercy.

There is another aspect of the crisis of marriage in our culture to which the light of the Gospel should be brought, namely, domestic violence. Because of the attention that has been paid to domestic violence over the last several weeks in the cases of certain professional athletes, and because of its relevance to the issues facing the church in its current Synod on the Family, I want to take the opportunity to state again the church’s teaching on this issue. The more we know what our Lord teaches us in the Gospel and what he expects of us as his disciples, the better we can witness truth to the world.

Domestic violence is any behavior, whether physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, or even economic, which attempts to isolate and control an intimate partner, by degrees of threat, fear, and intimidation. Nine times in ten, it is committed by men against women. It happens between married couples and between dating and cohabiting couples. It is often unreported, especially when physical abuse is not committed; but from what is reported, it seems that the prevalence of domestic violence increases among younger women, those with younger children, and those cohabitating. Violence against mothers of children also frequently coincides with violence against their children; and children who are victims of violence are much more likely to become violent in the same ways.

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord teaches that anger in the heart and verbal abuse are just another kind of murder (Mt 5:22). Domestic violence, even when physical harm is not committed, is a form of this spiritual killing. It clearly harms and violates the dignity of the victim, attacking their conscience and freedom, their heart and soul.

The church therefore teaches that every form of domestic violence is sinful. Such abuse is never justified, and it is often criminal (“When I Call for Help,” 2002 USCCB statement on domestic violence). Those who commit domestic violence, especially within a Christian marriage, fail badly in their duties as spouse and parent. St. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians points out the mutual submission of husband and wife in marriage. This mutual submission imitates the obedience of Christ on the Cross. It cannot be forced or coerced, it can only be gained by constant acts of love, trust, and fidelity. If a husband believes his wife is not submissive, he must examine his own behavior for a lack of submission to her, and he must regain her love with a renewal of his love for her. Even outside of marriage, these promises are implied by the very nature of sexual union, the most profound form of self-gift that is possible between two people.

In the pastoral care of the church in situations of domestic violence, we have three clear goals (see “When I Call for Help”). First and most important is the safety of the victims. Usually, this means removing the victim from the situation, which again (especially because of the way she has been made a victim already) cannot be coerced. This also means that she, and often she and her children, must have a safe place to go, and supporters who will help protect her from further abuse.

Second, we must hold the abuser accountable. This could mean some combination of intervention, legal action, or counseling. Some people who commit domestic violence can be helped and perhaps healed in these ways. Where the desire to change is real, spiritual and sacramental healing will also be pursued.

Third, to the extent that it is possible, we desire to heal and preserve marriages. The sacramental bond is important, and should not be allowed to fail without effort and hope. Nevertheless, in cases where, for example, abusive behavior isn’t likely to change, or the degree of lingering fear is simply too great to heal, the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage does not require that a victim remain with her abuser. In such cases, a civil divorce may be the best outcome. I stress that it is not the divorce that has ended the marriage, but the abuse. Of course, just as in every other case, civil divorce does not end the moral obligations of marriage, and the divorced are not free to marry again without a grant of nullity from the church.

Once again, I urge you to pray for families which experience any kind of domestic abuse. The power of prayer is great, and works in people’s hearts even when we do not see the results for ourselves. And we must offer the witness of faithful marriages, in which holy love and willing mutual submission testify boldly to the inherent dignity of each person, and in which children are cherished and welcomed as the gift from God they truly are. Men, especially, must call each other to lay down their lives for their wives and children, in imitation of Christ’s faithful example.

May Christ always give us the courage to accept our vocations faithfully and joyfully, and to reach out to those most in need of his grace and mercy. Thank you for your prayers for me and all our priests, deacons and seminarians. May the Lord give you peace.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

 

schedule

Bishop Nickless schedule for October 4-19

October 4 – Larchwood Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 4 p.m., St. Mary Church

October 5 – Algona Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 10:30 a.m., St. Cecelia Church

October 6 – Sioux City Southwest Deanery meeting and Holy Hour, 4 p.m., Blessed Sacrament Church

October 7 – Sioux City Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 6:30 p.m., St. Joseph Church

October 9 – Ankeny Iowa Catholic Conference meeting, 9 a.m.

October 12 – Cherokee Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 10 a.m., Immaculate Conception Church

October 12 – Sioux City Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools, 4 p.m., Sioux City Convention Center

October 13 – Spirit Lake Presbyteral Council meeting, 11 a.m., St. Mary Church

October 13-16 – Lake Okoboji 2014 Priest Convocation, Arrowwood Resort

October 17-18 – Conception, MO Board of Regents meeting, Conception Seminary College

October 18 – Storm Lake Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 7 p.m., St. Mary Church

October 19 – Le Mars Celebration of Mass and Confirmation, 1 p.m., St. Joseph Church

 

10-2-14: Power of prayer can evoke change

9-18-14: Bishop makes two requests: Pray and commit fully to vocation

9-4-14: The beauty of God's love

8-21-14: Bringing others into a rich, saving personal relationship with Jesus

8-7-24: Friendships with the saints

7-24-14: Seek Christ’s peace, justice

6-26-14: Thanks for priesthood, blessing of freedom

6-12-14: Pentecost offers an opportunity for transformation in our hearts

5-29-14: Holy Spirit does not come to visit us one day a year; he is always present

5-15-14: Celebrating mothers, Mary in May

4-17-14: Lenten pilgrimage reaches its end

4-3-14: Carry the cross: Lenten journey brings sacrifices, but don't sacrifice religious freedom

3-20-14: Live vocations joyfully, faithfully

3-6-14: Beginning the pilgrimage of Lent

2-20-14: Lent a time of preparation, renewal, rededication

2-6-14: Our Super Bowl goal is heaven

1-23-14: Striving to bring light and love of Jesus Christ to all

1-9-14: Ordinary time is anything but ordinary

12-19-13: Behold the saving power of the helpless infant

12-5-13: 'Put on Christ' more thoroughly this Advent

11-21-13: Year of Faith brings many blessings for diocese

11-7-13: No simple answer to complexity of HHS mandate

10-17-13: Preparing for our spiritual winters

10-3-13: Preaching the Gospel with whole lives

9-19-13: Work for peace in our own hearts

9-5-13: Church offers unique vision on subject of immigration

8-22-13:The Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to entrust her with daily concerns

7-25-13:Faith, example of Christ teach us daily duties have important spiritual benefits

7-11-13: Rule of St. Benedict: Vision built on foundation of prayer and work

6-27-13: Bishop says: If you do not witness faith consistently, you may lose it

6-13-13: Bishop encourages: 'Diligently seek Christ'

5-16-13: Spring brings Pentecost and graduations

5-2-13: Christ remains present to us through Catholic Church

4-4-13: Celebrating the Easter octave: Rejoicing in the risen Lord

3-21-13: Easter Blessings: Resurrection can transform the world

3-7-13: Faith and Hope: Pray for College of Cardinals, those entering the church

2-21-13: Lenten season: Time to be shaken out of regular routines

2-7-13: Lenten season: Use time to grow in faith, hope and love

1-24-13: Many special events slated for coming weeks

1-10-13: Year of Faith: Make time for prayer in the new year

12-20-12: The joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth

11-29-12: Preparing internally, externally during Advent

11-1-12: Path to holiness is simple and clear

10-18-12: Be willing to live and die as true followers of Christ

10-4-12: Strengthen and renew relationship with Jesus during Year of Faith

9-20-12: Gospel can heal, unify: divisions in culture and politics

8-23-12: Form consciences according to teachings of Christ

8-9-12: Stay strong in fidelity to vocation

7-26-12: All in need of continuing conversion and closeness to Christ

7-12-12: July closes Fortnight for Freedom, brings pastor changes

6-28-12: Bishop addresses important church and national topics

6-14-12: Give generously to Peter's Pence

5-31-12: Two ordinations and national campaign on agenda

5-17-12: Mary leads us to her son Jesus

4-19-12: Sharing Easter blessings and urging support of religious freedom

4-5-12: Easter Alleluia: Message spreads light, hope and joy

3-22-12: Back from Rome, work continues to stop HHS contraception mandate

3-8-12: Collection to Support Catholic relief agencies

2-23-12: Lenten Message: Turn to Jesus through prayer, fasting, good works

2-9-12: Time to rid life of Catholic compromises and deny temption of the devil

2-9-12: Lent: Time to build solidarity with the poor

1-26-12: Bishop addresses serious topics related to threats on life

1-26-12: Catholic schools teach faith, academics and service

1-12-12: All share common vocation to holiness

12-22-11: Supporting Catholic Charities

12-8-11: Advent: How our preparations poing to Christ

11-24-11: Advent prepares the faithful for the coming of Jesus

11-10-11: Making announcement as Bishop of Sioux City

10-27-11: Giving glory to God, honoring holy men and women

9-29-11: October brings various life issues to forefront

9-15-11: Holy Eucharist: Christ’s entire body, blood, soul, divinity present

9-1-11: Keehe sanctiping tty of marriage at the forefront

8-18-11: May new school year allow youth to grow in wisdom and grace

7-21-11: Reflections on appointment to diocese, generosity of people

6-23-11: Bishop answers questions about recent meeting

6-9-11: Summer brings a time of change, for better or worse

5-12-11: Wishing parishioners a joy-filled Easter season

4-14-11: Journey to Easter: Darkness makes way for new light

3-17-11: The promise of glory provides hope during Lent

3-3-11: Striving to live up to the promises of the Cross

2-3-11: The inestimable gift of the holy sacraments

1-20-11: Bishop celebrates five years of ministry in diocese

1-6-11: Vocations Awareness Week: Everyone has at least on clear vocation from God

12-16-10: Christmas joy: Our Lord among us

12-2-10: Advent season brings hope

11-4-10: November: Celebrating saints, praying for dead and giving thanks

10-21-10: Participate in election with Christ as guide

9-23-10: Catholic Charities Sunday set for Sept. 26

9-9-10: Hold firmly to precious gift of faith

8-12-10: Bishop addresses current issues: Immigration and same-sex marriage

7-15-10: Church can support couples in forming holy, happy marriages

7-1-10: Summer brings chance to rejuvenate body and spirituality

5-20-10: Practicing virtures of humility and modesty

5-6-10: Bishop Nickless reflects on joyous occasions, immigration

4-22-10: Bishop Nickless addresses sacramentals and indulgences

3-25-10: EASTER: The center of God's plan for salvation

3-11-10: Instill hearts with committed foundation for paschal joy

2-25-10: Bishop addresses vocations, marriage life issues and health care

2-11-10: LENT: Special time to wean lives of sin

1-28-10: Grasping meaning of suffering creates source of hope

1-14-10: Bishop addresses social and faith issues

11-20-08: Bishop gives thanks for blessings

11-13-08: Give thanks for God’s blessings

11-6-08: Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran, bishops to meet in Baltimore

10-30-08: Called to die to self, live only in Christ

10-23-08: Belonging to God and what that means

10-16-08: Church continues mission of Christ by rejecting culture of death

10-9-08: October - a busy month

10-2-08: Life is a gift of God's love

9-18-08: The Word of God in life and mission of church

9-11-08: Thoughts on life issues and faith education

9-4-08: VOTING: Understanding the issues at stake

 

 

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