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Bishop D’Arcy celebrates Mass at College

Megan O'Neil | Monday, November 7, 2005

Celebrating Mass at Saint Mary’s Sunday, Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend encouraged students to turn to the Eucharist and prayer in order to live their lives as preparation for their ultimate judgment before God.

He also answered questions posed by students on everything from the war in Iraq to homosexuality during a reception following Mass hosted by the senior class board.

In his homily to roughly 200 people, D’Arcy said it is difficult for individuals, particularly youth, to think of death.

“The Church has the teaching that has to do with the supreme moment of our lives, our moment of death,” D’Arcy said.

It is important to be prepared for the important events in life, D’Arcy said, and it is equally important to be prepared for death.

“A life of good conscience is a way to prepare for that,” D’Arcy said. “I hope and pray that when my time is up that I can say that I always did God’s will as I saw it.”

Human weakness will result in failures along the way, D’Arcy said, and prayer is a critical means of strengthening ones relationship with God and keeping one on the correct path.

“[A life and death in Christ] won’t be unless I learn to pray,” D’Arcy said. “God is not real to you unless you pray.”

D’Arcy described his father, an immigrant from Ireland, as a personal example of prayerfulness and reverence for God’s will. His father had minimal education and yet he communicated and trusted in God.

“He prayed every night,” D’Arcy said. “Whether you are a great intellectual or a humble worker, that is what brings the Church together. God’s will.”

Calling Saint Mary’s a “privileged place,” D’Arcy also encouraged students to make the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, an important part of their lives. The Eucharist is Christ’s sacrifice for his people, he said, and should be taken seriously.

D’Arcy acknowledged it is difficult to remain focused on the final judgment during the span of one’s life, but said if successful the meeting with the Lord will be ultimately be “joyful.”

“Sometimes you have to swim against the tide,” D’Arcy said. “Sometimes you have to resist winds of the times that can bring you away from Christ.”

During the reception following the Mass, D’Arcy answered a myriad of questions, most regarding the Church’s stance on social and political issues.

Responding to a student’s question, D’Arcy said although the Church does view some wars as just, he does not feel the current war in Iraq falls into this category.

“The harm done should not be greater than the good achieved,” D’Arcy said.

He cited the 2,000-plus American military deaths, as well has the additional thousands maimed, in the conflict. Further, the invasion of Iraq was preemptive, not defensive or preventative, D’Arcy said, and there was no such precedent in American history.

He felt the war in Afghanistan was justified, he said, because the government had intelligence that Al Qaeda was being harbored there and the group had already attacked and proven itself to be dangerous.

Today’s war in Iraq stands in stark contrast to the war of his youth, World War II, he said. In that conflict, the entire nation sacrificed to support the effort. Today, the responsibility falls largely on the shoulders of the military while the rest of the country continues with its routine.

“I respect the military and the men and women [serving],” D’Arcy said. “I think they are brave and are doing their duty.”

In response to a question about homosexuality in the priesthood, D’Arcy said he would support a letter from the Vatican mandating screening homosexual seminarians.

Citing his experience as a seminarian spiritual director, D’Arcy said the Church needs to be extremely careful about who it admits into its seminaries.

“A man who is going to become a priest gives up something very beautiful – a life-long relationship with a woman, a family, children,” he said.

Homosexuals are not attracted to marriage, he said, and therefore would not be making this sacrifice.

D’Arcy also cited a study done by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which found that 81 percent of incidents involving sexual misconduct among priests were homosexual acts.

He emphasized, however, the Church preaches compassion toward all people, including homosexuals.

“The homosexual person should be treated with the greatest respect,” D’Arcy said. “It is the homosexual act that is wrong. It is against nature. The body of a man and a woman are made for this union.”

When asked what he would do if he were Pope for a day, D’Arcy joked that he would probably pass on the offer.

“No, I think I would do what John Paul [II] did,” he said. “I would reach out to young people and strengthen the priesthood.”

He described Pope Benedict XVI as a “brilliant theologian” and “very gentle and very kind.”

“I like him,” D’Arcy said. “He is a musician He plays the piano. He loves Mozart. I think he will be a wonderful pope.”