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Updated: 36 min 39 sec ago

Devil destroys overtly or slyly by pretending to be a friend, pope says

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 10:12am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The devil is more dangerous when he is polite and friendly, persuading people to be "lukewarm" and worldly, than when he shows his true face and blatantly pushes people to sin, Pope Francis said.

The vocation or "nature of the devil is to destroy" what God has created, the pope said Oct. 12 in his homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

When the devil is unable to destroy something directly, through conflict or vices, he looks for another, sneakier way to attack because he is "slier than a fox," the pope said.

The battle between good and evil is being fought even inside each person, "perhaps unbeknownst to us, but we are in battle," he said.

"We Christians, Catholics, we go to Mass, pray," admit to having some flaws and recognize a few "little sins, but all seems to be in order," the pope said.

That is when the devil puts on a friendly face, "he goes and looks for a nice-looking clique, knocks on the door, 'Hello? May I come in?' He rings the doorbell," Pope Francis said, reflecting on the day's Gospel reading (Lk 11:15-26). The passage talks about an unclean spirit that is cast from his "home" and then "brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself" to move back in and make the person's situation worse than before.

"These well-mannered demons are worse than the first because you don't realize that you have them there at home," inside oneself, he said.

These demons, "don't make noise, they make friends, they persuade you," convincing people that it is OK to become mediocre, "lukewarm" and worldly.

"So often I ask myself, which is worse in a person's life," the devil trapping people into obvious sin, which leads them to feel ashamed, or a well-mannered devil who "is at your table, lives with you and all seems normal, but he makes insinuations and possesses you with the worldly spirit?" he asked.

Therefore, the pope said, people need to be calmly vigilant against falling into "spiritual mediocrity," which "corrupts us from within."

People must ask themselves: "What is happening in my heart? Why am I so mediocre? Why am I so lukewarm? How many polite ones live at home without paying rent?"

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope accepts Cardinal Wuerl's resignation as archbishop of Washington

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 7:13am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor.

When the pope's decision was announced Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Washington released a letter from Pope Francis to the cardinal, making clear his support for Cardinal Wuerl's ministry and leadership, but also praising the cardinal for putting the good of the church first.

"You have sufficient elements to 'justify' your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," the pope wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you."

Cardinal Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report detailing sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006.

The 77-year-old cardinal, the sixth archbishop of Washington, had submitted his resignation, as is mandatory, to the pope when he turned 75, but it had not been accepted.

In early September, Cardinal Wuerl told priests of the archdiocese that he would meet with Pope Francis and ask him to accept his resignation "so that this archdiocesan church we all love can move forward" and can experience "a new beginning."

The Vatican announcement that the pope accepted his resignation came more than two months after the announcement that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of retired Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals. Archbishop McCarrick faces credible allegations of sexual abuse, including two that involved minors; Pope Francis ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" while awaiting a trial or other canonical process on the charges.

Cardinal Wuerl has said until the Archdiocese of New York began investigating the claims that Archbishop McCarrick abused a minor, he was never informed of such accusations or even the rumors of Archbishop McCarrick's sexual harassment of seminarians.

In a letter Aug. 30 to the priests of the archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl apologized for not being as close to his priests as he could or should have been in the wake of all the abuse-related scandals.

Cardinal Wuerl asked the priests "for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies and also for your acceptance of my contrition for any suffering I have caused, as well as the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness."

"Would you please," he told the priests, "let the faithful you serve know of my love, my commitment to do whatever is necessary to right what is wrong and my sincere solidarity with you and them."

MORE TO COME

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With Romero, the church gains a model Salvadorans have long venerated

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 4:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A few years ago, I asked a Salvadoran priest whether he believed Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the best known of the martyrs of El Salvador, would ever be recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint.

He didn't hesitate in answering and said he believed it would happen but it might take "a long, long time," perhaps until Archbishop Romero was "decaffeinated," meaning that what he stood for during a turbulent time in the history of El Salvador had been stripped away.

For years, outright lies -- that he was political, that he was a "guerillero," a guerilla fighter and an instigator -- were promulgated in El Salvador and crossed the oceans to the halls of the Vatican, where church officials received "kilos of letters against him," as Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of Blessed Romero's cause for sainthood, said in 2015.

But the kilos of lies did not outweigh the truth and a history that has overwhelmingly shown that Blessed Romero was a man of peace, a friend of the marginalized, and lived and died like many of his people, a victim of forces that for centuries have enslaved El Salvador's poor.

His name is one in a sea of more than 70,000 innocent Salvadoran brothers and sisters, children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles violently killed during 12 years of conflict, and he lost his life simply by living like the unprotected masses.

The way he lived, not his death, is what endeared him to thousands of Salvadorans and other Latin Americans who long have called him "St. Romero of the Americas." He sought no special protection from the daily violence that the majority of the country lived under and chose not to shield himself and his conscience from the country's struggles. Instead, he fed the poor who picked the coffee crops for miserly wages and strolled through impoverished neighborhoods with a comforting smile while calling on the country's oppressors to a path of justice, equality and peace.

For many of us Salvadorans who were too young to make sense of his killing when it took place on March 24, 1980, his Oct. 14 declaration of sainthood is an official confirmation by the church of the holiness our elders, priests, men and women religious, and lay people who knew him in life, told us about over the years. There's no shortage of lies that the peddlers of injustice still try to promote, but they have failed to eclipse Romero's true message of love and closeness with the poor that many in the church in El Salvador have followed and transmitted.

With his canonization, his example transcends the borders of tiny and still troubled El Salvador,

To mark his sainthood, the Jesuit-run Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Edinburgh, Scotland, is set to dedicate a shrine to him. He is being remembered at Masses throughout the United States, from Washington to San Francisco, in Australia, Cuba and much, if not all, of Latin America, a region that has long thought of him as a saint.

Officials from the Archdiocese of San Salvador say they have registered 10,000 Salvadorans to attend the ceremony at the Vatican that will declare him and six others, including his friend and mentor Blessed Paul VI, models for the church. Of those, 3,000 will attend from El Salvador, 2,000 from various parts of the world, and 5,000 Salvadorans living in Italy.

Witnessing that brief moment in time, for many of us, is about sharing one of our own, and one of our best, with the world.

He showed us that our mission is following a Gospel that calls us to peace, toward happiness and fulfillment by sharing and caring and talking and writing to make life better for the most afflicted of our brothers and sisters in society -- no matter what the cost. It's no small legacy and one that many Salvadorans, inside and outside the country, take seriously.

"Each of you who believe must become a microphone, a radio station, a loudspeaker, not to talk, but to call for faith," he said in a homily on Oct. 29, 1978.

Almost 40 years after he said those words, the prophetic voice many of us grew up hearing is no longer just ours, and best of all, it has not been "decaffeinated." The declaration of Blessed Romero's sainthood shows us that truth doesn't merely survive the most vicious and violent attacks by forces such as money and power, but ultimately triumphs.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Limousine crash 'heartbreaking, gut-wrenching' for New York community

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 1:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Lori Van Buren, Times Union

By Kate Blain

ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- Among the 20 people killed in a devastating limousine accident Oct. 6 in Schoharie were several victims who had connections to parishes, schools and Catholic organizations of the Albany Diocese.

All 17 passengers in the limo and its driver were killed when the car ran through a stop sign, struck two pedestrians and a parked car, and landed in a shallow ravine. The pedestrians also died. Police have arrested the owner of the limousine company and charged him with criminally negligent homicide.

Among the fatalities was Amanda Halse, 26, was a server, bartender and supervisor at the restaurant at Shaker Pointe senior living community in Watervliet, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her boyfriend, Patrick Cushing, also died in the crash.

Gregory Reeves, regional vice president for Lifestyles, the company that runs the restaurant, recalled the young woman everyone called "Mandy" as low-key, with a "Mona Lisa smile." Halse had worked at Shaker Pointe for the past three years, since the restaurant opened.

"She had an infectious smile," Reeves said, and "what was behind it was a desire to please."

He said he had spoken to Halse about pursuing a career in the restaurant industry; he believed she had what it took to succeed.

Sister Kay Ryan, who also is part of Shaker Pointe's leadership team, agreed with that assessment.

When customers arrived at the restaurant, she said, "Mandy would say, 'Can I get you what you normally order, or are you trying to experiment?'"

"It's such a tragedy that this person who had such potential is not going to be here to fulfill it," Sister Kay told The Evangelist, Albany's diocesan newspaper. "She certainly lived the mission of Shaker Pointe."

Cushing, Halse's boyfriend, graduated from eighth grade at St. Mary's Institute in Amsterdam in 2001.

"He was a wonderful, quiet, shy kid," recalled the school's alumni relations director, Jeanette Constantine, who knew several of the victims and their families.

Constantine noted that newlyweds Shane McGowan and Erin Vertucci McGowan, two more of the crash victims, also attended St. Mary's Institute through seventh grade and second grade, respectively.

The school remembered the victims in morning prayers when the school reopened Oct. 9 after Columbus Day weekend. Constantine said they would also be mentioned in an upcoming liturgy.

The McGowans married in June at St. Mary's Church in Amsterdam.

Mrs. McGowan, who was working toward a master's degree in special education, had worked at St. Mary's Healthcare in Amsterdam. The hospital posted on Facebook that "St. Mary's Healthcare family sends thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those affected by the Schoharie tragedy" and noted that the community is "(coming) together to support one another during this difficult time."

Mrs. McGowan also was Cushing's cousin. One current pre-kindergarten student at St. Mary's Institute lost an uncle in the accident. Another victim's godchild attends the school.

The intertwined connections are an indication of the closeness of the Amsterdam-area community. Two Catholics told The Evangelist that family members had been on school sports teams with several of the victims and were coached by others.

Constantine said her nephew was a close friend of Cushing's and had flown in from Chicago to attend a candlelight vigil held the evening of Oct. 8 at the Amsterdam pedestrian bridge.

Maryknoll Father Jeffrey L'Arche, pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Amsterdam, attended that vigil, which drew well over 1,000 people. He said the candles ran out before all the participants could take one.

Father L'Arche said up to 10 of the victims' funerals could be offered at nearby St. Stanislaus Parish in Amsterdam. Two more will likely be at St. Mary's, he said. St. Stephen's Parish in Hagaman, where some victims' parents worship and one of the couples were married, also could be a site for some funerals.

Dates for the funeral Masses were still pending.

Constantine, Father L'Arche and others used similar words to describe the tragedy: "overwhelming," "heartbreaking" and "gut-wrenching."

Constantine said the hundreds of thousands of dollars already raised for children and other survivors through online GoFundMe pages, as well as the sheer number of memorials held for the victims, show the depth of the tragedy.

The accident has been called the deadliest transportation accident in the United States since 2009.

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Blain is editor of The Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Supreme Court examines dementia, health issues in death penalty cases

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 11:46am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, no stranger to death penalty cases, is looking very narrowly at two aspects of capital punishment this term: if an inmate with dementia should be executed if he has no memory of the crime he committed three decades ago and if a death-row prisoner with a specific health problem can be executed by a less painful manner because of his condition.

These two cases "put the unworkability and inhumanity of capital punishment on full display," said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, a group that champions restorative justice and an end to the death penalty.

She said state prison systems are increasingly "faced with the question of how to execute people with severe mental and physical health problems" particularly since America's death-row populations are getting older and the average death-row inmate spends 15 years awaiting execution.

"Harsh living conditions, including solitary confinement, only further exacerbate physical and mental illness," she added.

The court heard oral arguments Oct. 2, the second day of its new term, about the pending execution of Vernon Madison, an Alabama man who killed a police officer 30 years ago. He has suffered strokes in recent years that left him blind and with vascular dementia and significant memory loss. He cannot tell what season or day it is, nor does he remember committing the crime.

This case, Madison v. Alabama, was argued before eight judges while Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation was on hold. The court has already held that states may not execute the mentally ill or the intellectually disabled but has not ruled on those with dementia. This case also examines whether someone can be executed if they were mentally capable when they committed the crime but later developed cognitive impairments.

During arguments, the judges appeared to lean in Madison's favor, but this also is a new bench without Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in recent years played a key role in the court's opposition to the death penalty. He wrote the majority opinion in the court's 2007 decision saying people who cannot understand their punishments cannot be executed and in its 2005 ruling that juvenile offenders could not be executed. Both decisions had 5-4 votes.

Kavanaugh will not vote on the Madison case, but the court could decide to have it retried if it reaches a split vote.

During arguments, Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization for prisoners' rights based in Montgomery, Alabama, told the court that it is simply not humane to execute someone who is disabled, confused or fragile. He also put it this way: "No penological justification or retributive value can be found in executing a severely impaired and incompetent prisoner."

But the state saw it differently.

Alabama Deputy Attorney General Thomas Govan said the state still deserves to win "retribution for a heinous crime," and described Madison's claim as "unprecedented."

Justice Stephen Breyer, who has been the court's leading death penalty opponent, said Madison's numerous impairments are not unusual since death-row prisoners are older on average than they used to be and have been awaiting execution for 20 to 40 years.

"This will become a more common problem," Breyer said, adding that a narrow ruling in Madison's favor might prevent similar cases from flooding the courts.

The other death penalty case before the court is Bucklew v. Precythe. Russell Bucklew is on Missouri's death row for a 1986 murder. He suffers from a rare medical condition that causes blood-filled tumors in his head, neck and throat, which can easily rupture. His attorneys have argued that the state's lethal injection protocol would be more gruesome and cause more suffering than if he were put to death by lethal gas, which the state does not have the protocol to use.

Kavanaugh will hear the oral arguments in this case before the court Nov. 6, but how he will vote on a death penalty case is still pretty much unknown since, as a federal appeals court judge, he rarely heard capital punishment cases.

Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, wrote in the Sept. 18 issue of The Atlantic that however the Bucklew case is resolved, it shows "how fully the court has become enmeshed in the sordid details of official killing. As the population of death row ages, issues of age-related disease and dementia will become more important in assessing individual death warrants, and the court will be the last stop for those challenged."

Vaillancourt Murphy said it is not likely that many Catholics are paying attention to either of these cases before the court, but she said there has been an increased interest among Catholics to understand what capital punishment means in modern society particularly since the catechism was revised in early August calling the use of the death penalty "inadmissible."

"This added clarity in Catholic teaching is a welcome validation of the church's pro-life stance. We are called to uphold the sacred dignity of every human person, no matter the harm someone has caused," she said in an Oct. 9 email to Catholic News Service.

She said Catholics "should pay attention to these cases because they serve as important measures of how the highest court in the land is working to defend or disregard human life."

"As believers and as U.S. citizens, we should be prepared for more cases resembling these to go before the court in coming years," she added. "The conundrum of America's aging death rows is not going to go away."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Some married men would answer a call to priesthood, bishop says

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Speaking to the Synod of Bishops on behalf of Belgium's bishops' conference, a bishop said he was sure some young married men would become priests if they were asked.

The vocations of Christian marriage and "celibacy for the kingdom" of God "deserve to be equally promoted by the church," Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said in his presentation Oct. 10.

Just as Christians are expected to pursue another vocation out of their baptismal vocation in a way that gives "flesh" or substance to the sacrament of baptism, certain people, whether they are married or not, may hear a call to serve and be ministers of their communities, he said.

"I am convinced that some young people," who, out of their baptismal vocation, answered a call to commit themselves to "the bonds of marriage would readily answer 'here I am' if the church were to call them to priestly ministry," said the bishop who was elected by the Belgian bishops to represent them at the synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment.

The bishop's full text was published Oct. 10 on www.cathobel.be, the official French-language site of the Belgian bishops' conference.

Jesuit Father Tommy Scholtes, spokesman of the conference, said Bishop Kockerols had submitted his text to the Belgian bishops before it was delivered to the synod and, as such, the text was presented on behalf of the whole bishops' conference.

The bishop's brief talk focused on a deeper understanding of the term, "vocation," which begins with answering the call to life -- choosing life and choosing to listen to and love the Lord.

"For the Christian," he said, "this call to life is an invitation to be and to become a disciple of Christ, 'Come and follow me.'"

The baptismal vocation is "the source and summit" of all other vocations, he said, and people's answer to each call prepares them for the important choices to be made in life.

The church must accompany young people so that they can become disciples of Christ "each at their own pace," he said, and if the church does not become better committed to this task, "the church will continue to lose credibility."

Father Schotes told catholbel.be that allowing for the priestly ordination of married men could be one way to address dwindling vocations, but that it was not the only solution.

The problem with vocations "is also a question of the credibility of faith in the world today," he said, noting how Orthodox churches and Protestant communities, which allow married men to become priests, are also seeing a lack of men wishing to pursue ministry.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Brewers chaplain finds joy in connecting his love of priesthood, sports

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 12:27pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Allen Fredrickson for The Compass

By Maryangela Roman

MILWAUKEE (CNS) -- Champagne corks popped in the visiting clubhouse Oct. 7 as the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated their sweep of the Colorado Rockies, advancing to the National League Championship Series.

Back home in Wisconsin, an extended member of the Brewers' family was celebrating, too. Father Jerry Herda was popping a champagne cork in his backyard after watching the game on television with his family.

Father Herda, the Milwaukee Archdiocese's vicar for ordained and lay ecclesial ministry, has been a lifelong Brewers fan, but he also has a special connection to the team, having served as its Catholic chaplain for 12 seasons.

"The family was all together and we were screaming and yelling and even broke open a bottle of champagne in the backyard," admitted Father Herda, following the Brewers' 6-0 shutout of the Rockies to win the National League Division Series.

Father Herda's role with the Brewers began shortly after pitcher Jeff Suppan signed with the team in 2006.

A devout Catholic, Suppan asked if a Mass could be celebrated at Miller Park for players and staff prior to weekend games. As Father Herda explained, Suppan's previous team, the St. Louis Cardinals, had arranged for a Mass at the ballpark on weekends and Suppan hoped that could be replicated in Milwaukee.

Then-Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, now New York's cardinal-archbishop, appointed Father Herda to the role and, for the last 12 seasons, Father Herda has celebrated Mass in the press room of Miller Park prior to games Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

"It's open to any employee of Miller Park and there are a variety of people who come," said Father Herda, noting that players, coaches, ushers, security personnel and members of visiting teams are among his "parishioners" at the ballpark Masses.

The concept of ballpark Masses has been promoted by a national organization to which Father Herda belongs, Catholic Athletes for Christ, and to date, he said Masses are celebrated in 28 of 30 major league ballparks.

For Father Herda, as a baseball fan, the opportunity was a dream come true.

"I've been a lifelong fan. I grew up in this area and have always been a fan, so I was excited at the opportunity to be this close to the inner workings of a baseball team. It was nerve-wracking and fun all at the same time," he told The Compass, newspaper of the neighboring Diocese of Green Bay.

Father Herda estimated that he celebrates about 10 ballpark Masses a year and attendance at each Mass averages about 25 to 30 people.

"For some of these people, it's the only opportunity to go to Mass. The security guards, for example, have to be there so early on Saturday and then have to be back Sunday, so there's no other opportunity for Mass," he explained.

Players and coaches are among the attendees, he said, noting that this season, he had a repeat worshipper from the Pittsburgh Pirates, since the team was in town for more than one weekend.

"It's been my experience over the years that some guys are very faith-filled and really take their faith seriously, trying to live out their faith by attending Mass and wanting to participate in the sacraments. It's nice to see that happening and I wish it would expand more," said Father Herda.

He recalled that Suppan, who was released by the Brewers in 2010 and retired from baseball in 2014, was not only a regular attendee, but an evangelist of sorts, as he encouraged teammates to attend. According to Father Herda, Suppan's devotion to the Eucharist was evident in his humorous comment about a similar nondenominational service also held at the ballpark on weekends.

"He'd say to (teammates), 'Why go for the appetizer when you can come for the real meal?'" Father Herda relayed with a smile.

Because of time constraints, Father Herda said he has to limit the Masses to 30 minutes, but even in the shortened time frame, he makes sure to leave the worshippers with a message they can carry with them.

While his role primarily involves celebrating Mass at the ballpark, Father Herda said he has performed a few baptisms, heard confessions and recently celebrated a funeral Mass for a longtime usher at the request of his family.

Father Herda's connection to the Brewers has left him with a lifetime of memories and shelves and walls filled with memorabilia.

In his office, for example, a framed photo of himself with Pope Benedict XVI hangs next to his prized, framed 2011 cover of Sports Illustrated featuring a story on the National League Central Division champion Brewers and signed by Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and T Plush (Nyjer Morgan).

Brewers bobbleheads and balls signed by Rollie Fingers and Henry Aaron grace his shelves, along with a wooden carving of the Holy Family, altar bells and an ornate golden cross.

With the Brewers poised to make a run for the World Series championship, Father Herda is grateful for the opportunity he's had to impact athletes' faith lives.

"It's hard to believe it's been as long as it's been, but it's given me a chance to meet people I never would have and has given me access to part of baseball that I never would have had," he said, adding he's gotten to meet the likes of Joe Torre and Bob Uecker.

"It gives me some joy in the sense there is a connection to something I love. I love being a priest and I love sports, so it is nice to connect them together," he said.

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Roman is a contributor to The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

New saints shared a close friendship, professor says

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 11:22am

IMAGE: CNS phot0/Equipo Maiz, courtesy CAFOD, Just one World

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- Blesseds Paul VI and Oscar Romero crossed paths on their road to sainthood and formed a personal friendship that strengthened each other's resolve in the face of growing challenges, an Italian professor said.

According to Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, a professor of contemporary history at Roma Tre University and author of a biography of Blessed Romero, said that Blessed Paul had a deep appreciation and affection for Blessed Romero, despite the rumors and gossip that floated around the Vatican corridors.

"We can say that Paul VI protected Romero. In Rome, there was a flood of negative information regarding the archbishop of San Salvador. They accused him of being political, of being a communist, of being heretical," Morozzo said Oct. 9 at a conference at Palazzo San Calisto in Rome.

The event, sponsored by the Salvadoran Embassy to the Holy See, reflected on the friendship between the pope and the Salvadoran archbishop who were scheduled to be declared saints by Pope Francis Oct. 14.

Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador's ambassador to the Holy See, said the canonization of Blessed Romero "seemed like an impossible dream for us Salvadorans," and his being declared a saint alongside Pope Paul was the culmination of "a history of friendship."

Pope Paul "saw (Archbishop) Romero as an oasis in the desert, amid so much misunderstanding. And through (Paul VI's) support, Romero found the strength to remain in the country and continue his pastoral service despite the dangerous circumstances," Lopez said.

Although the archbishop of San Salvador enjoyed the trust of Blessed Paul VI, many within the Roman Curia viewed him in a negative light after he became more vocal against the right-wing paramilitary government following the assassination in 1977 of his friend, Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande.

Father Grande was known as a champion of the poor and the oppressed at a time when El Salvador was on the threshold of a civil war, one that eventually killed over 70,000 people.

His death at the hands of El Salvador's notorious death squads is believed to have been the inspiration for Archbishop Romero -- known for being less outspoken -- to take up the mantle of defending the poor as Father Grande did.

One of the first meetings between Blesseds Paul VI and Romero, Morozzo said, occurred shortly after he was named archbishop of San Salvador.

His appointment had come as a surprise to many of the local clergy who perceived their new archbishop to be too conservative. The apostolic nuncio at the time, Archbishop Emanuele Gerada, had lobbied heavily for Archbishop Romero's nomination, hoping that it would uphold the increasingly fragile relations with the government.

However, after the death of Father Grande, Archbishop Romero became more outspoken, which often drew warnings from the apostolic nuncio to exercise prudence. This prompted Archbishop Romero to travel to Rome and meet with the pope on March 26, 1977.

Pope Paul "told him fraternally a phrase that was the encouragement that Romero needed: 'Animo! Tu eres el que manda!' ('Courage! You're the one in charge!')," the Italian author said.

Blessed Romero's diary, Morozzo added, offered a glimpse into the mutual respect and affection between the two future saints during their next meeting in June 1978.

According to the archbishop, Pope Paul said, "I understand your difficult work. It is a work that perhaps may not be understood; you need to have a lot of patience and strength. I know that not everyone thinks like you; it is difficult in the circumstances of your country to find that unanimity of thought. Nevertheless, proceed with courage, with patience, with strength and with hope."

After returning from Rome, Blessed Romero also delivered the pope's words of encouragement to the people of El Salvador while celebrating Mass July 2, 1978.

"'They are a people,' the pope told me, 'who fights for recognition, they look for a more just environment. And you must love the people, you must help them. Be patient, be strong and help them. And tell them the pope loves them, he loves them and is following their difficulties; but to never look for solutions through irrational violence, that they never let themselves be led by the currents of hate," Blessed Romero said.

As he did until his martyrdom in 1980, Blessed Romero continued "to dream of a new heaven and a new earth" for the people of El Salvador, a country that, still today, suffers the scourge of violence, Morozzo said.

"I hope," he said, "that (Blessed) Romero -- along with Paul VI -- will help to achieve this dream."

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Contempt for life is the source of all evil, pope says

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 10:31am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Procuring an abortion is wrong, inhumane and like hiring a hit man "to fix a problem," Pope Francis said.

It is a contradiction to allow for killing a human life in a mother's womb "in the name of protecting other rights," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct. 10.

"How can an act that suppresses the innocent and defenseless budding life be therapeutic, civilized or simply humane?" he asked the more than 26,000 people present.

"Is it right to snuff out a human life to solve a problem?" he asked, until the crowd shouted loudly, "No."

"Is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem? No, you can't. It's not right to take out a human being, a small one, too, in order to fix a problem. It is like hiring a professional killer," he said.

The pope took a brief break from the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on young people to attend the morning general audience and continue his series of talks on the Ten Commandments.

He reflected on the Fifth Commandment, "You shall not kill," as being like a wall of defense, protecting the most fundamental value in human relationships -- the value of life.

"One can say that all the evil done in the world can be boiled down to this: contempt for life," the pope said.

"Life is attacked by wars, by organizations that exploit people" and creation, by "the throwaway culture," by systems that subjugate human lives to the calculated advantage of others, all while a "scandalous" number of people live in disgraceful conditions.

"This is contempt for life, that is, to kill in some way," he added.

Violence and refusing life are rooted in fear, he said.

Welcoming another challenges one's own selfish individualism, he said, pointing to the example of when a mother and father discover their unborn child will be born with disabilities.

These parents "need true closeness, true solidarity to face reality and overcome understandable fears. Instead, they often receive hasty advice to terminate the pregnancy," he said, adding that the phrase, "'terminate the pregnancy' means to directly take someone out."

"A sick child is like every person in need on earth," like the elderly who need care, like the poor who can barely make a living, he said.

They are all treated as if they were a problem, he said, but in fact, they are "a gift of God that can pull me out of my egocentricity and help me grow in love."

"Vulnerable lives show us the exit, the road to save us" from a selfish existence and to discover "the joy of love," he said, adding a word of thanks to Italian volunteers, saying they had the strongest dedication he has ever seen.

The idols of the world that lead people to refuse life are power, success and money, such as when decisions to end someone's life are based on the costs involved if that life were to continue.

"The only authentic measure of life" is love, he said; God loves every single human life.

"In every sick child, in every weak elderly person, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life, Christ is looking for us, he is seeking our heart in order to open it up to the joy of love."

"It is worth welcoming every life because every person is worth the blood of Christ himself. You cannot scorn what God has loved so much," he said.

"Do not scorn life," not the lives of others or one's own, he said, particularly with addictions that ruin lives and can lead to death.

So many young people, the pope said, need to hear the call to not devalue or refuse their lives, which are "a work of God, you are a work of God!"

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From Ohio to Kenya, Glenmary brother trots globe in search of vocations

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 12:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Glenmary Home Missioners

By John Stegeman

CINCINNATI (CNS) -- God's ability to call vocations isn't limited by geography, and so a vocation director must go wherever the Holy Spirit leads.

For Brother David Henley, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, it's led all around the world.

The Columbus native professed his first oath with Cincinnati-based Glenmary in 2003. Knowing Glenmary's mission is to bring the Catholic Church to small towns and rural counties of Appalachia and the South, he figured his days of traveling were limited.

With an increase of Hispanic immigrants in Glenmary's missions, Brother David quickly found himself in Mexico to learn the language. Since becoming vocation director in 2010, he has visited 39 states, Mexico again, Kenya and Uganda, all in search of vocation prospects.

"When I joined Glenmary, I thought I would have to give up traveling, but God obviously had a different plan," Brother David told Glenmary Challenge magazine. "I have realized my love to travel to new places and to meet new people has served Glenmary well. Guys are not lined up outside our door to sign up, so we have to go to where they are to meet them."

"Glenmary has seen a surge in vocation prospects contacting us from different parts the world," he added. "It is exciting that men from places that were once served by missionaries are feeling inspired to serve as missionaries themselves."

The international surge is real. Glenmary has three fully professed members from Kenya, two of whom made their final oath this year. Of the 10 men in Glenmary's formation program, one is from Ohio, the rest come from abroad. In all, six countries are represented in the group.

Despite the international flavor, Brother David's Glenmary vocation department spends most of its time seeking vocations in the United States. Brother David and vocation counselor Wilmar Zabala spend their days hosting "Come and See" events that take potential recruits to the missions, traveling to youth conferences, speaking at schools or otherwise reaching out, helping young men to hear God's call in their lives.

"Looking for vocation prospects has meant road trips across the USA, vocation events in different states and even traveling to other countries," Brother David said. "By joining Glenmary, I have gotten to see rural USA, which is so different from where I grew up in Columbus.

"I think my love for the people that I met on home mission trips helped to inspire me to become a Glenmary brother," he added. "I was responding to God's call, but I felt confirmed in my call to Glenmary because of my love for the mountains of Appalachia. Now as vocation director, getting to meet people all over the U.S. and in other countries when I make vocation visits has been a bonus."

Glenmary is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay co-workers dedicated to serving parts of small town and rural America that lack a formal Catholic presence.

Its founder, Father William Howard Bishop, was known for saying that people in what he termed "No Priest-Land, USA" were as entitled to missionaries as any overseas mission territory. He knew God would raise up men to answer this missionary challenge. Brother David said that's the reason behind all his travels.

"The notion that home mission communities are entitled to a Catholic presence," he said, "is precisely why Glenmary remains open to vocations from wherever the Spirit calls them."

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Stegeman is editor of Glenmary Challenge, quarterly magazine of the Glenmary Home Missioners.

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Church needs to meet young people where they are, U.S. observer says

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:24am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Anne Condodina

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - To reach young people and teach them the faith, Catholics must first show them that they are loved, "not just judged, discarded, or abused," said a 29-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops.

Yadira Vieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, told Vatican News Oct. 8 that the church needs to meet young people where they are. And while "a good portion" of the bishops at the synod are listening, she said, others are "still focused on preaching the truth to our youth."

"Yes, it's important to communicate the truth," she said, "but also you can't just communicate the truth without treating someone with love and care and attentiveness."

According to Vieyra, the church's message should be attentive to where youth are right now. It is important for the church to hear their needs and adapt its ministry so that they feel the church recognizes their humanity as well, she said.

In her small working group at the synod, she said she reminded the bishops that young people are not the same everywhere in the world. "I have made it a point to bring them back to the reality that not all of our youth are the same and their lives are not the same, not just in the U.S. but in other parts of the world."

For example, Vieyra said, "In the U.S. not everyone is raised by a mother and a father, or in a heterosexual couple. And so, that's important for us to be mindful of, because that's where our youth are. And it's important to honor their experiences and, again, minister to what life is like for them now and find a way to make them understand that they are so deeply loved by God and that he is just so excited to embrace them"

Recognizing what life is like for young people will help the church "find ways to meet them, whether it's through social media, through more innovative, fun, happy catechesis," Vieyra told Vatican News.

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How Paul VI influenced one young man who now leads his home diocese

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:05am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Brescia

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- His voice, his outstretched hands, his boarding an airplane to meet the world -- those are some of the most striking things about Blessed Paul VI that moved and inspired a young man discerning the priesthood.

"I still remember his voice when we would hear him on television," Bishop Pierantonio Tremolada of Brescia told Catholic News Service by telephone Oct. 8.

"It was such a unique voice, very heartfelt, authoritative, the voice of a good man," said the 62-year-old bishop who grew up and was ordained in Milan -- the archdiocese Pope Paul led before he was elected pope in 1963. Once again crossing the pope's path, Bishop Tremolada has -- since 2017 -- been leading the Diocese of Brescia where the pope was born.

The bishop will be among those concelebrating Mass and attending the canonization of Blessed Paul and six other men and women in Rome Oct. 14. More than 5,000 Catholics from Brescia signed up to travel with the bishop for the ceremony.

The saint-to-be is a particularly suited example for young people, Bishop Tremolada said from his office in Brescia, because he exemplified a youthful optimism, hope, curiosity and openness to the world and the future.

"He offers us an example with his esteem, his love for the world," the bishop said. That love was especially evident at the Second Vatican Council and in its pastoral constitution, "Gaudium et Spes" (Joy and Hope), revealing a church eager to engage with everyone and share the good news.

The document "explains Paul VI's approach very well -- not to run away, not be defensive, but wanting to know and dialogue with the world, offering it the Gospel for the good of the world," the bishop said.

This desire to contribute and speak sincerely with others "is very much in line with young people," he said.

The pope's love for the world was rooted in Christ, "being in communion with him, the conviction he is the savior," which is still "very timely" today in reaching out and responding to young people, he said.

When asked what it was about the pope that struck or impressed him most as a young person growing up, Bishop Tremolada said it was his voice and the way he spoke "with words that were not his, but were important" and aimed at everyone.

"It was a voice that proposed, not imposed, meek but authoritative," he said.

He said, "What also struck me very much were the images of him getting on an airplane," something that had never been seen before -- not only because he was the first pope to use an airplane in 1964, but he was the first pope since 1812 to venture outside Italy.

"And his hands. The way he reached out toward people" is another image that still remains with him, he said.

"Now as a bishop, the things I would like to emulate about him are his ability to dialogue," his ability to "read" and understand the world, his great humility and the reserved, inner strength that inspired him to offer "the gift of the Gospel," he said.

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Martyred archbishop lived Gospel, sought God's will, says Mercy sister

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:47pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Norma Montenegro Flynn

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the world Synod of Bishops unfolds at the Vatican, thousands of faithful pilgrims get ready to witness the Oct. 14 canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero, along with Blessed Paul VI and five other new saints.

Among those preparing for the pilgrimage to Rome is Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, a theologian, professor and author who has researched and studied the life and legacy of Blessed Romero, an archbishop and martyr who spoke up on behalf of the poor and vulnerable during El Salvador's civil war.

"He was one of the most conscious followers of Jesus, he knew what that meant, and he knew what he was called to do," Sister Pineda said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was fatally shot while celebrating Mass at a chapel in a hospital March 24, 1980. Three years earlier, in 1977, Blessed Paul named him the archbishop of San Salvador, which provided him a national platform to speak out in defense of the poor and against the violence and oppression attributed to the government at the time. He was beatified by Pope Francis in 2015.

He is considered an iconic figure and his legacy advocating for human rights is admired around the world. However, Sister Pineda advises not to see him as a superhero, but as a bright man with flaws and limitations. He was timid and at times felt insecure, and struggled with impatience and a bad temper.

But he also was a man who lived out the Gospel, sought God's will, and lived his Christian commitment to the ultimate consequence: martyrdom, she said.

"He had human limitations like all of us have, so it's a beautiful thing to see how he keeps making the effort every moment of his life to try and respond to what God was asking of him, and to try and do it as a better person."

He was a complicated figure in society and the church in El Salvador, Sister Pineda pointed out. And he often received criticism from some sectors in society, the government, and the church.

"This canonization is a validation by the church that the way he lived his life is an authentic sign of Christian commitment; that the way he lived his life is a genuine expression of how we are asked to follow Jesus," she added.

In a recent pastoral letter on Romero's life and ministry, Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, New York, urged Catholic scholars and theologians to further study the "archbishop's spiritual theology, missiology and approach to Catholic social justice teaching and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy."

Sister Pineda concurred that there is a need to continue studying Blessed Romero's legacy. "His homilies are densely filled with a lot of the church's teachings, Scriptures, and all that can still continue to teach us more, so there has to be more work done," she said.

Blessed Romero wrote his homilies with three levels in mind. He described the reality of what was happening at the time, the reflection of the word of God, and the application of what that would mean at the time, she added.

His life's journey led him to live out the mystery of the cross, where he as a pastor of a "suffering church" would share in the suffering, Sister Pineda said, adding that anyone can relate to his experiences even amid suffering.

"What I find consoling is that he is like I might be, a human being with frailties. But it teaches me something: that you try and work with it and you try to walk ahead, and that God helps you, God is with you and that you can overcome some of those personal difficulties. And you see it in his life, he becomes a martyr," although not by his own choice, she said.

"He was afraid of death, I don't think he went out to embrace death, but he knew that this could be the consequence of living out the truth, the Gospel's truth."

And even during his most difficult times, days before his death, Blessed Romero's prayers showed abandonment to God's will and embracing his cross.

"Because he had a sense that he was going to be killed or he was in danger, (he prays to God) 'if it happens to me, please be with me. And at the last moment, could I feel your embrace to help me at that moment,'" said Sister Pineda.

"To me, that is maybe the part that is most powerful. It's not to think of him as a superhero, but a man who tried faithfully to live out what Jesus was asking of him, what God was asking of him."

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Mercy, love can heal wounded marriages, pope says

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 10:02am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants couples to live out their marriage faithfully and not abandon hope when things go awry, Pope Francis said.

"A love with mutual self-giving sustained by Christ's grace" is what allows couples to remain united in marriage, the pope said Oct. 7 during his Sunday Angelus address.

But "if individual interests -- one's own satisfaction -- prevail in spouses, then their union will not endure," he said.

The pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which the Pharisees test Jesus by asking him if it is "lawful for a husband to divorce his wife."

"What God has joined together, no human being must separate," Jesus replied to them.

Jesus' teaching, the pope explained, is "very clear and defends the dignity of marriage" as a union between man and woman "that implies fidelity."

Nevertheless, the Gospel story also realistically recognizes that couples called to "live the experience of relationship and love can painfully do things that put it in crisis," he said.

While Jesus doesn't set out to label "everything that leads to the failure of a relationship," the pope said, he takes the opportunity to confirm God's plan "where the strength and beauty of the human relationship stand out."

"On the one hand, the church does not tire of confirming the beauty of the family as given to us by Scripture and tradition," he said. "But at the same time, she makes an effort to make her maternal closeness felt by those who live the experience of relationships that are broken or carried out in a painful and tiring way."

Pope Francis said that when faced with couples in troubled marriages, the church is called to be present with love, charity and mercy to "lead wounded and lost hearts back to God."

"God's way of acting with his unfaithful people -- that is, with us -- teaches us that wounded love can be healed by God through mercy and forgiveness," the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Church leaders must face truth of abuse, Cardinal DiNardo says

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 2:11pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. bishops' conference welcomed Pope Francis' pledge to fight attempts to cover up cases of sexual abuse and to stop offering special treatment to bishops who have committed or covered up abuse.

"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of Oct. 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said in a statement released Oct. 7 in Rome.

The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two U.S. leaders were expected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue over the handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.

In a statement Oct. 6, the Vatican said Pope Francis had ordered a thorough review of the archives of Vatican offices to study how the allegations were handled.

"The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,'" the Vatican statement said.

Cardinal DiNardo, who earlier had requested a full investigation, said, "The truth will ensure the terrible sins of the past are not repeated. The courage of abuse survivors who first brought the horrific truth of sexual abuse to light must continue to be matched by our courage as pastors to respond in justice."

The U.S. cardinal's statement was published the same day Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, responded to allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, that Pope Francis knew about and ignored the allegations against then-Cardinal McCarrick.

Cardinal Ouellet called Archbishop Vigano's accusations a "political" ploy that had wounded the unity of the church.

"Out of respect for the victims and given the need for justice, the inquiry currently underway in the United States and in the Roman Curia should provide a comprehensive and critical study of the procedures and the circumstances of this painful case in order to prevent something like it from ever happening in the future," Cardinal Ouellet said.

Cardinal DiNardo said he and all the U.S. bishops "offer our prayers and solidarity for the Holy Father. We urge all in the church, particularly the bishops, to reaffirm our communion with Pope Francis who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church."

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Cardinal Ouellet responds to Archbishop Vigano on McCarrick case

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 10:21am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote Oct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States.

The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano's letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops' appointments in the United States.

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother," Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion."

Archbishop Vigano's letters, he said, "inflict a very painful wound" on the church, "which you claim to serve better, aggravating divisions and the bewilderment of the people of God!"

"Come out of hiding," Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, who left Rome as soon as his mid-August missive was published, claiming that it was for his own safety.

"Repent of your revolt," the cardinal wrote before asking, "How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope's) name in the canon of the Mass?"

Cardinal Ouellet's letter, written with the approval of Pope Francis, was published the day after the Vatican said the pope had ordered a "thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively."

The statement added that "the Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues."

Archbishop Vigano had claimed he personally informed Pope Francis in June 2013 that in "2009 or 2010," after Cardinal McCarrick had retired, Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on him because of allegations of sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians. Archbishop Vigano later explained that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions "privately" perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey."

In his open letter, Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, "You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013, of the McCarrick case in an audience he granted to you like many other papal representatives he met for the first time that day."

"Imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information he received that day regarding many people and situations," the cardinal wrote. "I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him as much as you would like us to believe, given the fact that he was an 82-year-old archbishop emeritus who had been without a post for seven years."

As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as nuncio to the United States, "they say nothing at all about McCarrick." However, the cardinal added, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past."

Cardinal McCarrick "was strongly exhorted not to travel and not to appear in public so as not to provoke further rumors," Cardinal Ouellet said, but "it is false to present these measures taken in his regard as 'sanctions' decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I certify that there are no such documents signed by either pope."

And, unlike what Archbishop Vigano claimed, there are no documents from Cardinal Ouellet's predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, saying that then-Cardinal McCarrick was ordered to live a life of withdrawal and silence under the threat of canonical penalties.

The reason such measures were not taken then and were only taken in June by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet said, was because there was not "sufficient proof of his presumed guilt."

"His case would have been the object of new disciplinary measures if the nunciature in Washington or any other source would have furnished us with recent and decisive information about his behavior," the cardinal told the former nuncio.

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Update: Vatican reviewing McCarrick case, vows to pursue truth no matter what

Sat, 10/06/2018 - 11:23am

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Promising a thorough review of how the Vatican handled allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Vatican acknowledged that what happened may fall short of the procedures that are in place today.

"The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,'" the Vatican said in statement released Oct. 6.

Renewing its commitment to uncovering the truth, the Vatican also said that information gathered from its investigation as well as "a further thorough study" of its archives regarding the former cardinal will be released "in due course."

"Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable," the Vatican said.

According to the statement, the pope ordered a preliminary investigation by the Archdiocese of New York after an allegation that Archbishop McCarrick abused a teenager 47 years ago; the allegation subsequently was found to be credible.

Pope Francis, the Vatican said, accepted Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals after "grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation."

In the weeks after the allegations were made public, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had.

The Vatican statement comes more than a month after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, released an 11-page "testimony" claiming that church officials, including Pope Francis, failed to act on the accusations of abuse by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

In his statement Aug. 25, Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 -- when he was an official at the Secretariat of State -- of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians." Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegations from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011.

A 2006 letter obtained by Catholic News Service Sept. 7 suggested that then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, acknowledged allegations made in 2000 by Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, concerning Archbishop McCarrick.

Archbishop Vigano had claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis."

"I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay," he said.

Then-Cardinal McCarrick, he claimed, "was to leave the seminary where he was living" which, at the time, was the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland, and was also "forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance."

However, photos and videos during the time of the alleged sanctions gave evidence that Archbishop McCarrick appeared in public with Archbishop Vigano and continued to concelebrate at large public Masses and visit the Vatican and Pope Benedict himself.

Almost a week after issuing his original accusations, Archbishop Vigano modified his claim and said Pope Benedict made the sanctions private, perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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No shortage of issues piquing voter interest in midterm elections

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 4:50pm

IMAGE: CNS/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With the clock toward the Nov. 6 midterm elections ticking away, there are some parallels between the findings of a Sept. 26 Pew Research Center survey on issues of key concern to voters and issues outlined in the U.S. bishops' "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," a document meant to provide a moral framework Catholic voters can use to analyze issues.

The economy? Check. Immigration? Check. The environment? Check. Terrorism? Check. Abortion? Check. Health care? Check. Discrimination? Check. Social Security? Check.

Supreme Court appointments -- an issue few could have foreseen -- topped all comers in the Pew survey, with 76 percent calling it very important. Voters in the Pew survey also ranked as very important, at rates between 66 and 69 percent, gun policy, Medicare and taxes. Issues garnering between 53 and 60 percent interest were the federal budget deficit, trade policy and drug addiction.

The bishops also noted as among their chief concerns physician-assisted suicide, materialism, same-sex marriage, religious freedom both at home and abroad, the promotion of peace, marriage and family life, Catholic education, media issues, and global solidarity.

In "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," traditionally issued a year in advance of a presidential election but applicable to the midterms, the bishops noted the contradictions in American life.

"We are a nation founded on 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the terminally ill, and the elderly, the most vulnerable members of the American family. We are called to be peacemakers in a nation at war. We are a country pledged to pursue 'liberty and justice for all,' but we are too often divided across lines of race, ethnicity and economic inequality," they said.

"We are a nation of immigrants, struggling to address the challenges of many new immigrants in our midst. We are a society built on the strength of our families, called to defend marriage and offer moral and economic supports for family life. We are a powerful nation in a violent world, confronting terror and trying to build a safer, more just, more peaceful world. We are an affluent society where too many live in poverty and lack health care and other necessities of life."

The Pew survey indicated that, with higher interest in this midterm election, Democratic voters' overall interest ranks above that of Republicans.

Health care had slipped as a top voter issue in recent years, according to Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is head of the Catholic Health Association, but the concern now is lawmakers' "efforts at undermining the Affordable Care Act, while they (politicians) haven't destroyed it, they have made it difficult. And they have done things that caused the cost of insurance to go up."

"We finally got people in this country to be able to be calm when they had, or their children had, serious diseases," Sister Keehan said. "Because before, it was 'pre-existing conditions,' so if you changed insurance companies, you would get insurance for everything except for what you need it for. Changing insurance is just as deadly to your economic security as it is to your health."

She lamented the catch-22 facing many American families. "You think of the family that's able to get Medicaid because of the Medicaid expansion, or the family that's able to get insurance," she said, "and all of a sudden, you can't get insurance anymore. ... These are not rich people" who are being affected, Sister Keehan added, "and you have a Justice Department that says even though there's a law, we're not going to defend the law."

Sister Keehan said, "It's no way to treat an American family. ... It's particularly vicious given the massive tax break we gave to the top 1 percent" last year.

Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, which promotes pro-life politicians, talked about her groups efforts in an Oct. 3 phone interview with Catholic News Service.

"We are active in states where President Trump won by an overwhelming margin and where Democratic senators are up for re-election," Quigley said, mentioning Florida and West Virginia. "Voters are very much absolutely motivated by pro-life issues."

Quigley spoke of targeting "unreliable pro-life voters -- people who are pro-life, but typically don't go out to vote in nonpresidential election years. It gives them another reason to vote for the pro-life challenger." She said her organization also is "talking to Democratic groups like Hispanics and women who identify as moderate on pro-life issues."

When told that Democrats rated abortion an even higher concern than did Republicans in the Pew survey, Quigley's initial response was, "Interesting." "I think a lot of that has to do with what we are hearing right now -- the Supreme Court confirmation a battle," she added.

Gun violence has persisted in the headlines since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, followed by near-weekly mass shootings, including an incident in early October in which seven South Carolina police officers were shot, one of them fatally.

"The challenge with any justice issue is to keep people engaged and mobilized even when the news cycle moves on," said an Oct. 4 email to CNS from John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group based in Washington.

"Many people pay attention to gun violence when there is a high-profile shooting and then interest can fade, but we continue to work with faith-based activists and clergy who know that gun violence is a pro-life issue. Election cycles come and go, but long-term organizing builds capacity for change."

In rural America, the key issues are an amalgam of the economy, the environment, health care, trade and drug addiction, according to James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life.

There's still a farm bill waiting to be approved, Ennis noted. The old one expired Sept. 30, and Congress passed a continuing resolution to extend it to Dec. 7.

"Underneath this is a bigger issue, and that's the farm crisis, especially among dairy farmers ... who are struggling to make ends meet," he said. "One of the related issues is tariffs, and the soybean farmers. Congress can argue that it's not that large a part of the economy and not a big deal, but to soybean farmers it is a big deal," Ennis added. "Already prices have dropped once news of the tariffs was announced."

Access to health care is "a real challenge because of the economics of hospitals closing due to not being able to make it in rural communities," he said. "The other related piece to that is the opioid crisis.

"The Senate passed a large bill, a great bill (Oct. 3), and that matters. But it's a crisis in rural communities. So many people know relatives, friends, children who are addicted. There are many drug overdoses," Ennis added. "I would argue that it's a symptom of the environment in rural communities that makes opioids a diversion" to their physical, emotional and financial straits.

Environmental concerns persist in rural America, Ennis said. "We're talking now about water contamination with high nitrate levels. A report just came out of the increase in nitrate levels in both groundwater and surface water in communities that are near agriculture. There's a significant level of nitrates due to fertilizer and runoff. This is happening not only in Minnesota but Iowa, New York and Delaware."

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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Asia Bibi's family: Pakistan Supreme Court to decide her fate this month

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 4:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Simon Caldwell

By Simon Caldwell

CHESTER, England (CNS) -- The first Catholic woman to be condemned to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws will discover her fate later this month, her family told Catholic News Service.

Asia Bibi, who has been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang for insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, will learn the outcome of her appeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court later in October, her husband, Ashiq Masih, told CNS Oct. 5.

If Bibi is released, he said, she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them to remain in Pakistan.

Ashiq, a builder from Sheikhupura, Pakistan, was in England with his and Bibi's youngest daughter, Eisham Ashiq, as guests of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians.

They said when they visited Bibi in Multan Prison Oct. 1 that she was in good health, contrary to speculation that she was developing dementia.

During the interview at St Columba's Church, Ashiq said Bibi was praying constantly and that she deeply believed she would win her freedom.

"She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong," said Ashiq. "Having a very strong faith, she is ready and willing to die for Christ. She will never convert to Islam.

"She also wanted to deliver a message to the international community that they must remember her in their prayers. These prayers will open the door of the prison, and she will be released very soon," he said.

"She is spending her life praying with a very strong faith and is reading the Bible every day. She feels when she is praying, Jesus is encouraging and supporting her," he continued, adding that she also received Communion in jail Oct. 1.

In June 2009 Bibi, who worked as a farmhand, was accused of blasphemy against Islam after Muslim women objected to her drinking from a common water supply because she is a Christian.

Eisham told CNS that, as a 9-year-old girl, she witnessed her mother being severely beaten by a Muslim mob in the aftermath of the accusation.

"I believe in God and I believe she will be released, but she can't live in Pakistan once she has been released -- simple as that," she said.

Bibi was rescued by police, only to be sentenced to death for violating Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which makes insulting Muhammad a capital offense.

No one has been executed under the law so far, but Christians who are falsely accused often are lynched or spend many years in prison.

Bibi's final appeal will be heard by a special three-judge bench. The hearing represents her last chance at avoiding a death sentence for blasphemy. If the court upholds the execution order, the only option open to her lawyers will be a direct appeal for clemency to President Imran Khan.

Her case has divided Pakistan, with millions of Islamic militants reportedly willing to kill her to obtain a reward of 500,000 rupees offered by a Muslim cleric for her murder; some moderate Muslims have called for her release.

Among those who called for her release was the governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated in January 2011 after he said he would fight for her release.

Two months later, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was gunned down after he said he would seek the reform of the blasphemy laws to stop them being abused to persecute innocent Christians.

Now-retired Pope Benedict XVI is among those to have publicly called for Bibi's release and, in February, Pope Francis received Ashiq and Eisham at the Vatican, while the Coliseum was bathed in red light to highlight the suffering of contemporary martyrs.

Ashiq said: "The pope encouraged us and said to us, 'Don't led your mind be disturbed' and said 'Pass on my encouragement to Asia Bibi and bless her as well.' He said he is praying for her and that he believed she would be freed very soon.

"By meeting him, our faith was boosted," he said. "We were already believing and have a strong faith, but listening to him really encouraged us."

"Remember us in your prayers and support us as much as you can so that Asia Bibi can be released very soon," Ashiq said. "When she is free, she will able to answer questions in person."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

At synod, young people call for more involvement, representation

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 1:02pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people from around the world told Pope Francis and members of the Synod of Bishops that they no longer want to remain on the sidelines but want to take an active role in the church.

Young men and women from Chile, Argentina, Australia and Panama were among the delegates who addressed the synod in its opening days and spoke candidly about their hopes for the Catholic Church to address the challenges they face in the modern world.

"Young people don't just want to be treated as such," said Silvia Retamales, a member of the Chilean bishops' youth office. "We need a different and open church that doesn't close the doors on social, sexual and ethnic minorities."

As the church in Chile continues to face a growing crisis regarding sexual abuse and cover-up by members of the clergy, Retamales told the synod members that young Catholics in the country are "crying out for a structure that totally avoids any disposition that encourages, allows or covers up any form of abuse."

The role of women in the church, she added, must also be strengthened in areas "of real decision-making and participation in our communities."

"I would like to be part of church in which everyone has a place and in which the voice of each member is considered without 'demanding' a certain prototype of faithful, in a profound encounter with the diversity in which Christ manifests himself," Retamales said.

Mariano Garcia, national coordinator of youth ministry in Argentina, said the church needs to take greater care of young people, especially the poorest.

Many young men and women, he said, "live under the scourge of poverty -- young people with their social, economic and cultural rights violated, wounded by the exclusive systems we are immersed in and that do not favor equality, equity and justice for true human development."

Garcia said the church needed to help young people who are considered "the 'nobodies' of the society in which we live, young people who are cast aside, the ones who nobody cares about."

For Yithzak Gonzalez, a youth minister and executive secretary of the youth office of the Panamanian bishops' conference, the church should reconsider "the methods that are used to achieve a coherent and responsible discernment that doesn't turn us into a statistic: unemployed youths, delinquent youths, youths who neither study or work, youths with alcohol and drug problems, etc."

"We want to be part of the solution to conflicts. We believe that young people must be the first authors and promoters of their personal fulfillment," Gonzalez said.

Sebastian Duhao, a member of the youth council in the Diocese of Paramatta, Australia, recalled his experience playing saxophone in a youth choir, where he quickly learned that if he "wanted to be able to play alongside the youth choir, I would have to learn to play by listening."

"The church needs to create similar spaces, where young people can voice their opinions, their hopes, their needs and their struggles, without being judged," Duhao said. "The church, like I had to, must learn to use its ears, to listen to the world around it, to listen to what is required of it and, most importantly, to listen to the voices of young people because we have something to offer.

 

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