Thursday, June 28, 2007

Welcome to the official blog of Catholics United for the Faith!

June 29, 2007
Saints Peter and Paul

“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church . . .’”
--Matthew 16:16-18

“Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”
--1 Corinthians 9:16

In this inaugural posting on CUF's blog, I want to provide visitors with some basic information about our organization, as well as some idea as to what can be expected in future postings.

Grab a cup of coffee and start scrolling down!

Why CUF?

Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) is an international lay organization dedicated to proclaiming and teaching the Catholic faith. Since 1968, CUF has offered much-needed doctrinal and spiritual assistance to those who have turned to us for reliable information as to what the Church really teaches. CUF has also provided a courageous, unified voice for lay Catholics who are committed to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Tens of thousands of CUF members, individually and organized as chapters, have been leaders in evangelization and sound catechesis—at home, in schools and parishes, and in the public square—providing a much-needed leaven in today’s society.

Faithful to the direction and authority of the Pope and the Magisterium, CUF members have no agenda other than to “support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.” Following the rich teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and the blueprint for lay organizations provided by Pope John Paul II , CUF emphasizes the following principles:

(1) The first and fundamental call of every Christian to holiness.

(2) The responsibility of professing the Catholic faith as loyal sons and daughters of the Church.

(3) The witness to a strong and authentic communion with the Pope—the Vicar of Christ on earth—and with the local bishop.

(4) Conforming to and participating in the Church’s apostolic goals, especially the “new evangelization.”

(5) The commitment to authentic human development in keeping with the God-given dignity of every human person, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Now more than ever, those of us who love Christ and His Church, those of us who want to evangelize our culture, those of us who want to live the teachings of Vatican II—particularly the call to holiness—need to stand together and be counted. CUF gives corporate expression to these godly aspirations of Catholic men and women throughout the world.

For more information on CUF, including how to become a member of CUF and more specific information regarding our various outreaches and materials, visit

Of particular interest might be the following exchange between CUF’s founder, H. Lyman Stebbins (1911-89), and C.S. Lewis, prior to Mr. Stebbins’ conversion to the Catholic Church:

Lyman Stebbins aptly sums up what CUF is all about in CUF original “Declaration of Purpose,” published in September 1968:

“We . . . wish to affirm our unshakable loyalty to the Pope, and thus to the Church, and thus to Christ. We are convinced, moreover, that this affirmation can and should be heard from many voices, that it must ring through the Church and the world.”

Why a blog?

For the past 39 years, CUF has used all the available means of social communication to communicate the truth of the Gospel—from magazines, tracts, and newspapers, to radio and television, to toll-free helplines and websites, to books and audios.

Of special note would be our award-winning magazine for today’s Catholic men and women Lay Witness (; our critically acclaimed Faith and Life elementary catechism series (; our “Faith Facts” tract service, question and answer service, and toll-free membership helpline (; and Emmaus Road Publishing, through which we publish life-changing Bible studies and other dynamic Catholic books (

Through these and other services we have reached, and continue to reach, tens of thousands of people each year with the life-changing teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. Even so, we recognize that we will miss more people than we reach if we don’t make it a point to go where the people are. And today more people than ever look to the Internet as their principal source of information, a source that is quick and interactive.

And so now, while maintaining our other outreaches, we’re making a special effort to reach out to a new, Internet-savvy generation (that means you!) with the timely and timeless truths of the Catholic faith. We see this blog, as well as the ongoing improvements of and, as just the first baby steps we need to take in this effort.

What can we expect on CUF’s blog?

We will invite daily discussion on the broadest range of faith-related topics. We will not only call upon our staff, but also upon our distinguished board members, advisors (bishops, priests, religious, and lay), and “friends in the field” to contribute to this effort. As is the case with our other outreaches, CUF’s blog will be a “go to” place for those wanting the authentic teaching of the Church in its fullness.

I will be a regular contributor to this blog. On almost a daily basis I will post answers to some of the questions from CUF members that we receive at Some of you may not be familiar with me (yet), but I will soon post my personal testimony and background to introduce myself. But as I alluded to above, this blog isn’t about me and what my opinion happens to be, but rather it’s a place where Church teaching is allowed to shine and thereby bring light to our lives, our families, and our culture.

I suspect most of our visitors will be Catholic, and for those of you in that category I pray this blog will help you expand and deepen your understanding of our faith, and that you will find this blog a welcoming environment where you can share the joys and sufferings of our pilgrimage of faith with like-minded people.

I also want to extend a special word of welcome to those visitors who are not Catholic, but who are sincere in their pursuit of the truth and who have honest questions about Jesus Christ and the Church He founded. I personally assure you that you will be treated with respect, and I will try to avoid unnecessary “Church-speak” in answering your questions. Obviously this blog is unabashedly Catholic. However, I take very seriously this statement issued by the Church at the Second Vatican Council:

“Truth can impose itself on the mind of man only in virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.”

So, it’s not a question of anyone trying to impose a certain doctrine or agenda on someone else, but I see us all on a journey to find and embrace the truth, which Christians believe became enfleshed in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I assure all visitors that we will build on points of agreement, and express opinions and points of disagreement in ways that are ordered to build rather than further divide.

Why launch today?

It is no accident that we have chosen June 29th, the feast (or in Church-speak “solemnity,” which means it is a feast of the highest rank) of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to launch this blog. Clearly these great Apostles were pillars of the infant Church, and that fact alone would justify the selection of this date. Yet, their connection to CUF runs even deeper than that.

Let me explain.

In 1967 Pope Paul VI called a “Year of Faith” to bear witness to the Church’s steadfast will to “guard what has been entrusted to [her]” (1 Tim. 6:20)—in other words, to manifest the Church’s commitment to defend Church teaching from attack or distortion.

But that’s not all. The Holy Father also called the Year of Faith to focus our efforts on bringing this faith to life in a rapidly changing world that brings with it new challenges to embracing and living the Gospel.

Hmmm. Defending the faith but also advancing the faith that has been taught by the Apostles and their successors for two millennia. Sounds strikingly close to CUF’s mission to “support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.”

At the conclusion of the Year of Faith, on June 29, 1968, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul as well as the 1900th anniversary of their martyrdom, Pope Paul VI issued the Credo of the People of God, which courageously sets forth for today’s men and women the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ.

This remarkable document was an attempt to counteract the crisis of faith in our culture, as Pope Paul VI was painfully aware of the various agendas and currents of thought that were undermining Christian belief.

Here’s how Pope Paul VI himself described it:

“On this day which is chosen to close the Year of Faith, on this feast of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, we have wished to offer to the living God the homage of a Profession of Faith. And as once at Caesarea Philippi the Apostle Peter spoke on behalf of the Twelve to make a true confession, beyond human opinions, of Christ as Son of the living God, so today his humble Successor, Pastor of the universal Church, raises his voice to give, on behalf of all the People of God, a firm witness to the divine truth entrusted to the Church to be announced to all nations.”

For the entire text of the Credo, see

Only months after the issuance of the Credo, Lyman Stebbins announced the formation of Catholics United for the Faith as a means for lay people to visibly unite with the Holy Father in his efforts to defend and proclaim the faith of the Apostles, the faith in Jesus Christ, the one Savior of the world.

Pope John Paul II deliberately chose his name to build upon the work of Blessed John XXIII and Pope Paul VI in implementing the authentic renewal of Christian faith in the modern world which the Second Vatican Council sought to bring about. Taking their work to its logical conclusion, Pope John Paul II prophetically called for a “new evangelization,” which is all about defending and proclaiming the apostolic faith in today’s world.

And just yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI announced a “Year of St. Paul” at St. Paul outside the Walls Basilica in Rome. He did so to mark the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth, as he is generally believed to have been born between the years 6 and 8 A.D. In choosing to focus on the “Apostle to the Gentiles” during the coming year, Pope Benedict is building upon the evangelistic and catechetical priorities of his immediate predecessors.

Sts. Peter and Paul have always been special patron saints of CUF. We ask their intercession for this new blog, and even more, for the missionary efforts of the entire Church during this new springtime of faith.

Why united for the faith?

After all, there are many important causes to rally around right now. Why not Catholics United for the Right to Life? Catholics United for Social Justice? Catholics United for Clean Air? Catholics United for Peace? Catholics United for Liturgical Reverence?

These and many other causes are eminently worthwhile, but CUF’s mission is even more fundamental, more radical. It’s a mission that goes to the heart of the matter, as our faith in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ is what gives these other causes their ultimate meaning and context.

Or to put it more bluntly in Clintonesque terms: “It’s the faith, stupid!”

When faced with divurging opinions we might talk about finding “common ground.” As the late Cardinal Hickey once noted, our true common ground as Catholics is the deposit of faith—what the Lord has revealed to us through His Church for our salvation. Our faith is Catholic—it’s meant for all peoples and cultures. But diversity without this “common ground” is Babel, not Pentecost.

The faith is a reality that’s not dependent on my accepting it or rejecting it. Jesus is either the Son of God, or He isn’t. There is one God in three persons, or there isn’t. Jesus gave authority in His Church to His Apostles and their successors, or He didn’t. And so on. Objective truth is not affected by my own personal views. After all, I'm not God. And neither are you.

The Credo, or Creed (and not just the one of Pope Paul VI, but also other creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed we say at Mass) reflects the objective, perennial faith of the Church. We believe that the Church has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide successive generations of believers into all truth.

And so the faith is not something we make up, as though the Creed were some sort of spiritual salad bar. Rather, it’s about our acceptance through the Church of God’s revelation in Christ.

But faith is also a personal, subjective reality. I can legitimately refer to my faith. Jesus Christ truly is my—and your—Lord and Savior with whom we are called to a very personal relationship.

Yet, as Christians we enter into the reality of eternity, not create it. Christ came to change us with His saving truth, not to be changed according to our own natural inclinations.

Each one of us is called to appropriate the faith and make it my faith. It begins with the new life we receive at Baptism, but doesn’t end until the Lord calls us home. But to the extent my faith doesn’t correspond with the faith, my faith needs to change, not the faith.

I went on a little longer than I originally intended on “the faith.” But that’s what we’re about here, and what ultimately is more important to talk about than our Christian faith?

By the way, we just published a wonderful book that’s relevant to this discussion by the great Newman scholar Fr. Ian Ker. It’s called Mere Catholicism and it’s available now through Emmaus Road: (

Is CUF an activist organization?

Yes and no. We’ve been known as a leading orthodox voice in the Church for nearly four decades. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, one of our episcopal advisors, put it this way a couple years ago:

“Proclaiming Christ to every generation is what CUF has been doing for the past 35 years. Loyal to the teachings of the Church and courageous in the face of opposition, CUF has been consistent in its witness to the unchanging truth of the Gospel and to her members’ steadfast belief that the fullness of that truth is to be found in the Church.”

This staunch fidelity has led to CUF’s active opposition to evils such as serious liturgical abuse, doctrinal dissent by those with the responsibility of teaching the faith, poor catechesis, and the agenda of the “culture of death.”

We are always clear, by the way, that we’re not Catholics against the Faithless, but Catholics for the Faith, so any such activism has as its goal the salvation of souls.

Are we activists? Well, those who advocate the above evils would certainly call us activists (and probably a few other things besides!). Those who want a quick fix, on the other hand, would not consider us activists. So I suppose to some extent it’s a matter of perception. Here’s the reality, though, as expressed by CUF founder Lyman Stebbins in CUF’s original membership brochure:

“Catholics United for the Faith believes so strongly in the primacy of the spiritual and the power of the supernatural that it is convinced it could do an enormous work even if its members’ only activities were study, prayer, fasting, and works of mercy and love toward our neighbor. We believe that these are, necessarily and objectively, prerequisites for the effectiveness of any Christian work. Thus, they are in no way opposed to action in itself; they are opposed only to impatient, self-assertive, or quarrelsome action. CUF is strongly in favor of any action which will really serve . . . to repair the dissent and disunity within the Church.”

This blog will become a place where people can voice their concerns about the Church, and even more it will be a place to come to find support as well as constructive suggestions for addressing such concerns as faithful sons and daughters of the Church.

At least as often, it will likely provide a setting to “cool off” lest we respond immediately to our concerns out of the passion of the moment without sufficient time for prayer and recollection. This site will relentlessly remind visitors that the first order of business is the renewal of our own hearts.

In addition to this blogsite, I’d also recommend joining or starting a CUF chapter as a means for faithful Catholics to join for prayer, formation in the faith, fellowship, and apostolic outreach. For more information on our chapter program, see

Consider this analogy. Imagine there’s a mishap on an airplane and the craft begins losing cabin pressure. In the face of such a calamity, most of us would want to be courageous and help as many of our fellow passengers as possible. Yet, if we don’t use our own air mask first, in a matter of seconds we’ll be of no use to anybody. We would be among the first casualties.
Similarly, our first responsibility as Christians is to open our own hearts to Christ each day, allowing Him to change us and work through us.

What about the bishops?

CUF has been a leader in defending the office of the bishop. The bishops’ role as legitimate successors of the Apostles is a basic point of Catholic teaching. This surely needs to be explained patiently and carefully to all, especially to those who accept Christ in some fashion, but who do not accept a visible, hierarchical Church.

But there’s much more to it. How do we live this teaching, especially in the midst of scandals, when we think our bishop or pastor is part of the problem or perhaps isn’t doing as much to “clean up the Church” as we might think he should?

That’s where CUF’s wisdom and experience comes into play. We have published extensive articles and tracts on this subject through the years. Here are links to a sampling of these resources:

In addition, a few years ago we published the book Servants of the Gospel, a collection of essays by prominent U.S. bishops such as Cardinal George, Archbishops Chaput, Myers, and Burke, and Bishops Bruskewitz, Carlson, and Tobin on various aspects of the episcopal office. This book was used as a resource by the Synod of Bishops in Rome as it deliberated upon the role of the bishop in the Church today.

I realize that all the teaching and articles in the world is one thing, and applying it in real-life situations is another. We strive to practice what we preach, manifesting this positive, respectful approach in our extensive interactions with Church leaders in the U.S. and the Vatican.

But even more, especially through our Catholic Responses department, we provide practical, pastoral assistance to members in appropriately addressing their concerns.

What are CUF’s weapons?

I want to conclude here with a remarkable excerpt from Lyman Stebbins, offered in an article in which he exhorted the lay faithful to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as an aid to following Jesus Christ to eternal glory. This excerpt shows what I consider to be the source of our apostolate’s strength in battle:

"It is essential for all of us in CUF to learn—and to keep remembering—that in the eyes of God meekness is not weakness [ ], the exercise of patience is not unmanly, the willingness to suffer for love is not cowardice, submission to constituted authority is not a cop-out."

"Our God is a warrior. He is Lord of the angelic hosts, the great Lion of Judah, the Son of God who ever goes forth to war with His blood-red banner streaming. He appointed St. Peter as His deputy and champion in the great battle. Yet, when St. Peter wielded his sword, Jesus reacted immediately and decisively, commanding him to put the earthly weapon back into its scabbord. Later on, at St. Peter’s formal investiture, the Lord taught him the mysterious and heavenly weapons of the saints: 'Love Me!' and 'Feed My sheep!'

"We of CUF simply must learn and use His weapons; not our own."

May this new blog use well the spiritual weapons of Christ, as we address faith issues honestly and candidly, but always with charity and respect, as together we “support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.”