Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prayer To The Holy Cross

I adore You, O glorious Cross,
which was adorned with the Heart and Body
of my Saviour Jesus Christ,
stained and covered with blood.

I adore You, O Holy Cross,
out of love for Him, Jesus,
who is my Saviour and my God.

Environment celebrated in Kerry

One diocese has taken the Bishop's pastoral, The Cry of the Earth, to heart and organised seven days of focus on the environment. 

The Kerry Earth Week includes harvest thanksgiving mass or services in several parishes this week as well as nature walks, stargazing, talks and workshops. 

“Earth Week is a week-long celebration of the gift of our created world with a call to respect and care for it,” said the organisers, Kerry Diocesan Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation Committee.  

For 10 years, they have held a day annually in different venues such as Tralee, Béal, Gortbrack, Miltown, and Lyreacrompane.  This year they have expanded to fill a week.

Fr. Sean Mc Donagh.  SSC speaks on Climate Change - The challenge to all of us on Thursday.  He is highlighting the religious and ethical dimension of climate change.  

Trócaire is hosting a workshop on Climate Justice exploring the impact of climate change on households and small communities in Malawi, Honduras, Bolivia and Kenya.

The Kenmare Parish Project is being launched at the weekend.  Earthlore, as it is called, aims to rediscover the lost knowledge, crafts and customs of the earth in the parish of Kenmare. 

It involves schoolchildren asking their grandparents and the older generation about the old sayings and customs that illustrate a more sustainable way of life.  

The children are presenting some artwork reflecting this at the launch.

“The idea is to find out what was known by earlier generations and the ways they were living in harmony with the earth,” organiser Sylvia Thompson told CiNews.  

“The project creates links between the generations; we hope that other parishes will do it too.”

Transition year students are organising a handout for masses and it is hoped enough interest will be shown by parishioners who want to get involved.

Other events during the week include a visit to Inisfallen is facilitated by Emer Madigan, a Presentation Sister who says she, “wants people to savour its beauty and tranquillity, visit its monastic ruins, and tap into the wisdom, energy and power that flow from this ancient seat of learning and holiness.”

Kerry Earth Week (September 26 – October 4) is now in full swing, mindful of Pope Benedict XVI’s words:  “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole…”

Trócaire talk is at St. Brigid’s Secondary School, Killarney on Saturday October 2.

Fr. Sean Mc Donagh’s talk is on Thursday September 30 at Malton Theatre, Killarney.


Catholic psychologists discuss implications of new study on jobs and divorce

Earlier this year, a psychological journal published a groundbreaking study on possible links between divorce rates and various careers and occupations. 

The survey by professors Shawn McCoy and Michael Aamodt was among the first to break down divorce statistics in 449 different fields. 

Two notable Catholic psychologists spoke to CNA about what the findings could mean, and how job stress can affect family life.

The study, published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, found that among some performing artists, especially dancers and choreographers, rates of divorce were highest at almost 45 percent. 

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, director of the Institute for Marital Healing, responded that he was not surprised by the high rates of divorce in the performing arts. While not criticizing individual artists, he noted that “such careers tend to foster selfishness … the major enemy of marital love.”

Low divorce rates – around 5 to 6 percent - were reported for optometrists and podiatrists. 

But members of many other types of medical “caregiving” professions, such as nurses and home health aides, were among the likeliest to divorce, ranking alongside bartenders and casino workers.

Fitzgibbons noted that women, who become medical caregivers more often than men, initiate two-thirds of all divorces. But he also pointed to other factors which could create marital difficulty for both men and women in caregiving and other service industries, such as job stress and unusual hours.

“Those who work in the evenings are a distinct disadvantage,” he observed, “because the marital friendship usually suffers, with ensuing significant loneliness.”

Both of the experts consulted by CNA agreed that the study's results could signify a looming “marriage crisis” among men and women without college diplomas, who support themselves and their families with lower-skilled and lower-paying lines of work.

Fr. Charles Shelton, a Jesuit priest and psychologist who has written several books on maintaining a balanced personal and family life, told CNA that individuals who are habitually unhappy with their work – often those in low-paying, low-skilled professions - may transfer this dissatisfaction to their spouse and children. A disappointing or frustrating job, he said, can lead to “immature defenses such as displacement onto others,” especially one's family members. 

“I think the American dream is closing for many people,” Fr. Shelton observed, noting that “the competition for jobs will only add more stress” upon individuals and their spouses. Fitzgibbons also singled out the “marked decrease in good blue-collar jobs for men” as an underlying cause of divorce.

Fitzgibbons also called attention to employers' responsibility to be mindful of their employees' family lives-- not as a luxury, but as the foundation of society. “Employers,” he emphasized, “should commit themselves more to the common good and the virtue of solidarity rather than to greed.”

Fr. Shelton envisioned the Catholic Church's ministries as a source of strength for married couples in the face of a difficult economy and sometimes dismal career prospects. “Ideally,” he said, “parishes would have centers where people could gather and have support groups,” for the faithful to receive guidance and support one another in work and family life.

One of the original authors of the study on jobs and divorce told the Washington Post that the study could not answer the question, “Why are bartenders this way and engineers” --who have an especially low divorce rate-- “that way?”

But Fitzgibbons stressed that, no matter what the statistics imply, an authentic marriage can always succeed with God's grace. 

He advised all couples to remember that marriage is ultimately “supported more by God's love, than by their own love.”


Moscow Patriarchate freezes ecumenical journey: pope never commanded in the East

The Moscow Patriarchate has poured cold water on progress in the ecumenical journey that emerged from the recent meeting in Vienna of the Joint Commission between Catholics and Orthodox (see photo). 

In a statement published on the Patriarchate website Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department for External Relations says that " no breakthrough has been made," on the theme of the meeting, that of the role of the bishop of Rome in the first millennium, and moreover challenges the very foundation of the meeting, denying that the pope ever had jurisdiction over the Eastern Churches.

The two co-chairmen of the Commission, Mgr. Kurt Koch and Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas, outlining the outcome of the meeting on September 24, had appeared optimistic about the results achieved. 

"There are no clouds of mistrust between our two churches" - declared the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. 

"If we continue like that - he added - God will find a way to overcome all the difficulties that remain".

Zizioulas had argued that to achieve full unity – which existed until 1054, when there was the schism between East and West - Orthodox and Catholics need "not a reform, but an adaptation from both sides." 

For the Orthodox, he explained, this means recognizing that a universal Christian Church is at a higher level than their national churches and the bishop of Rome is the traditional leader. 

For Catholics, this means strengthening the principle of collegiality, that is the role of the synods of bishops in decision-making.

Hilarion has rejected everything. Starting from the document drawn up last year in Cyprus, during the previous meeting of the Commission (at which the Moscow Patriarchate did not participate due to the presence of the Estonian Orthodox Church, which it does not recognize), which he refers to as a mere "instrumentum laboris" , or working document "which has no official status."

That document, he adds, is "strictly historical in nature and, speaking of the role of the bishop of Rome, makes almost no mention of the bishops of the other local Churches of the first millennium, which creates a misunderstanding of how power was distributed in the early Church. 

Moreover, the document does not contain a clear and precise statement of the fact that the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome in the first millennium did not extend to the East. It is hoped that these gaps and omissions are remedied in the final draft of the text”.

"For the Orthodox, it is obvious that in the first millennium, the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome extended only to the West, while the eastern territories were divided among four patriarchs - Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. 

The Bishop of Rome had no direct jurisdiction over the East, despite the fact that in some cases, the Eastern bishops have called upon him as a arbitrator in theological discussions. 

This fact was not systematic in nature and can in no way be construed as meaning that the bishop of Rome was seen in the East as the holder of a supreme authority throughout the universal Church".


A gift fit for a Pope

Marking the Pope’s recent visit to the UK, a team of skilled, dedicated and diverse craftsmen from Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter demonstrated the wealth of talent they have by producing a bespoke civic gift in less than six weeks from start to finish.

Seeking an appropriate souvenir for the special visitor, Birmingham City Council commissioned a replica of the ‘crumpled cross’ found amongst the Staffordshire Hoard. 

The cross was ‘unfolded’ by Mark Watkins, a technologist from the JIIC, using artist impressions on screen, before his images were made into patterns.

The five pieces that form the cross were then cut separately and soldered together before being plated in gold with garnet insets to make it look as it would have done in Anglo Saxon times.

Presented by Councillor Alan Rudge the final piece was given to Pope Benedict before he carried out mass in Cofton Park during his visit to Birmingham.

The project is being praised as a perfect example of cooperation, where local skills and technical expertise were combined to produce a unique, Birmingham made, gift to mark this historic visit.

Award-winning local silversmith Shona Marsh said “This was a fascinating project. I was honoured to have the opportunity to research the original cross and to reproduce it by working closely with some extremely talented and skilled outworkers in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.”


Sarkozy to meet pope on October Vatican trip

The Vatican said Tuesday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy would meet Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Italy in October, confirming a report from religious news agency

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he "confirmed" the meeting, which is due to take place on October 8.

The two men last met in September 2008, when Benedict was in France. 

It will be Sarkozy's second visit to the Vatican, following his journey in December 2007.

The Vatican has joined a chorus of criticism over France's crackdown on Roma and Gypsy communities. 

In August it accused Paris of flouting European law.


Cofton Park's grass still damaged after Pope's Mass

People using Cofton Park in Birmingham, where the Pope beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, say it has been left in mess nine days after his visit.

More than 50,000 people attended a Mass in the park on the last day of Pope Benedict's first UK visit.

Clem Sutton, who has used the park for 60 years, said he hoped it "looks worse than it is".

The council said repairs to the damaged grass were under way and it was hoped nature would then take its course.

Work to remove the tracks on the turf is expected to be completed on Wednesday.

Mr Sutton said: "I hope it looks worse than it turns out to be. Hopefully nature is great and it will re-seed itself and repair."

Pope Benedict spent four days in the UK, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow and London before the ceremony in the park. 

He then flew home to Rome from Birmingham airport.

The beatification of Cardinal Newman is the penultimate step on the path to full sainthood.


Holding Pope responsible for abuses is not too dangerous

OUR first question in the interrogation of Geoffrey Robertson, QC: is prosecuting the Pope for the sins of child-molesting priests a dangerous idea - so dangerous that we must dismiss it as a hypothetical?

The human rights lawyer clasps his hands, the courtly gesture he made famous on Geoffrey Robertson's Hypotheticals, and replies: ''I don't think it's dangerous at all.''

Mr Robertson is in his Sydney hotel near the Opera House where, on Saturday, he will be the headline act in the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. 

He will debate Alan Dershowitz, the renowned American criminal lawyer who has represented Mike Tyson and O. J. Simpson, in a session titled ''The sins of the fathers: should the Pope be held to account?''

Mr Robertson, unlike his atheist friends Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, does not want the 83-year-old Pope put on trial for what he calls a ''human rights atrocity''.

The Australian lawyer, who lives in London, worried that his message became lost in sensation under British tabloid headlines such as ''Put Pope in the dock'' and ''Plot to have the Pope arrested''.

''I don't want to prosecute him,'' Mr Robertson says. ''I want something done to end this epidemic of child abuse.''

So he proffers this warning to the Pope and the Vatican - that they could be legally liable for the crimes of thousands of priests, not as a dangerous idea but a ''useful'' one that might spur them into action.

In his latest book, The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, Mr Robertson decries as many as 100,000 cases of Catholic clerical child abuse around the world since 1981. 

The church, he writes, has harboured priests and covered up their crimes by refusing to hand them over to police and insisting they be tried secretly under canon law.

While victims are silenced, priests are told to pray for them as penance, then are ''trafficked'' to other parishes or countries where they are free to molest again.

This is perpetuated, Mr Robertson writes, by the ''pseudo state'' of the Holy See that was created in 1929 in a deal between Mussolini and the pro-fascist Pope Pius XI, and which the Vatican describes as an ''absolute monarchy''. 

As its head of state, the Pope is immune from prosecution, to which Mr Robertson says he has no rightful claim.

''In law, a state must have people, but there are no Vaticanians,'' Mr Robertson said yesterday. 

''It's the size of a golf course, a small enclave in Rome with a few hundred Catholic officials. No one is born in the Vatican, other than by unfortunate accident.''

Mr Robertson argues that abuses have occurred for 30 years under the watch of the pontiff, as the Pope and as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. 

While prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that deals with clerical abuse, he ''preferred not to defrock paedophiles who have gone on to rape and molest others''. 

In 2001 he instructed bishops to maintain canonical secrecy and, in July, he refused to amend canon law to require bishops to report abusive priests to police.

''I was very pleased that last week he described child abuse in the Catholic Church as an unspeakable crime,'' he says. 

''But then he went on to say it was a disease. He still doesn't grasp that most of the molestation isn't done by people who are in the grip of disease. The problem is, he hesitates. He still refuses to do what is absolutely necessary.''


U.S. Oblate provincial is elected superior general of order

Members of the general chapter of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate elected the provincial of the United States to be their new superior general.

Oblate Father Louis Lougen was elected to a six-year term Sept. 28, his 58th birthday.

The Oblate chapter included 89 delegates, representing the order's 4,000 missionaries who work in 66 countries around the world.

Father Lougen, of Buffalo, N.Y., had served as the U.S. provincial superior since 2005.

He succeeds Father Wilhelm Steckling, who served the maximum of two six-year terms as superior general.

The new superior attended the Oblate-run Bishop Neumann High School in Buffalo and entered the Oblate's juniorate in Newburgh, N.Y., in 1970. He attended the novitiate in Godfrey, Ill., and continued his formation at Oblate College in Washington, D.C., earning degrees in philosophy and theology.

After being ordained a deacon in 1978, he spent six months working in Brazil, and he returned to the South American country after his ordination to the priesthood in Washington in 1979.

In Brazil, he worked in parishes and on the Oblate formation team, eventually serving as director of the pre-novitiate and as novice master. He also served on the provincial council for the Oblates in Sao Paulo from 1985 to 1994.

Returning to the United States in 1996, he served as assistant director of the pre-novitiate and pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Buffalo. He became novice master in Godfrey in 2002 and was named provincial in 2005.


Encourage pilgrims to imitate Christ, Pope tells pastoral workers

In a letter to participants at an international conference examining pastoral activity at pilgrimages and shrines this week, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of urging pilgrims to encounter and imitate Christ.

A message sent by the Holy Father this month to guide the Second World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Shrines and Pilgrimages was distributed by the Vatican's council for migrants on Monday. 

The congress is taking place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain from Sept. 27-30 under the theme taken from the road to Emmaus, "He entered to remain with them."

Calling their pastoral work "fundamental" to the ecclesial life, Pope Benedict wrote to participants that since the beginning of his pontificate he also has intended to live his ministry with the feelings of the hope and simplicity of a pilgrim and with the Gospel message "on his lips." 

The pilgrim's conch on his coat of arms, he said, is an "explicit sign of this mission."

In the strong call to evangelize the world, he said, the "richness that springs" from pilgrimages and shrines is emphasized. He highlighted their "extraordinary capacity" to call people back to the faith, saying "(a)s Simeon found Jesus in the temple, in the same way also the pilgrim must have the opportunity to discover the Lord in the shrine."

Benedict XVI implored pilgrims not to forget that shrines are sacred and to be treated with devotion and respect. Of those who host pilgrims, he asked that they do so with "great scrupulosity." The shrines of the world "must be lighthouses of charity," he said, "incessantly dedicated to the most disadvantaged through concrete works of solidarity and mercy and a constant willingness to listen."

There, access to confession and Mass must be ensured, he said, calling the Eucharist the "food of the pilgrim" and the central point of all pastoral activity. The encounter with God, he added, ever the goal of the pilgrim, finds its "culmination" in the Eucharist.

He concluded by exhorting participants in the world congress to encourage pilgrims "to awareness and imitation of Christ, who continues to walk with us, illuminated our lives with his Word and distributing the Bread of Life in the Eucharist.

"In such a way," he said, "the pilgrimage to the shrine will be a propitious occasion to reinvigorate ... the desire to share with others the marvelous experience of knowing themselves to be loved by God and to be sent to the world to bear witness to this love."

Noting the inspiration of congress' scope in these words from the Holy Father, in his opening discourse for the congress, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò posed the Pope's words as guidelines to help participants' reflections and "deepen the evangelization potential of pilgrimages."


Archdiocese of Sao Paulo criticizes art exhibit promoting violence

The Archdiocese of Sao Paulo has called on Brazil’s Public Ministry to intervene in the Sao Paulo Art Biennial and remove an exhibit by artist Gil Vicente that depicts the assassination of various world leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI. 

The archdiocese expressed “amazement, disgust and unease” at the exhibit “Enemies” by Vicente, which features drawings that “implicitly approve of violence.” 

“There is no principal or school teacher with common sense who would display these drawings in their classrooms, as they would be considered uncivilized,” the statement continued. 

“In a society already marked by conflict and suffering because of so much violence, it is dubious that in the name of art, an exhibit is displayed that suggests the expression of hatred against those perceived to be one’s enemies,” the archdiocese said. 

It called the exhibit an “unfortunate show of disrespect for human dignity and a threat to the peace of social life.  Violence, whether real or simply suggested, creates more violence,” the archdiocese stressed. 

It also noted that the Catholic community feels particularly indignant and saddened “by the disrespect towards Pope Benedict XVI, who travels about the world on a mission of justice and peace.  

To imagine or suggest violence against the Pope causes sadness and indignation.  May nobody, in any part of the world, be crazy enough to view these drawings!” the archdiocese said.

Recently, Brazilian lawyers demanded the exhibit be withdrawn for its depiction of the assassinations of world leaders such as George Bush, Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Pope Benedict XVI.


Cardinal Rivera: Mexico takes ‘giant step backward’ when divided

The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera said in his homily Sunday for the nation’s bicentennial celebrations that the country must work toward national reconciliation.

“We have always been capable of uniting with one another, and examples abound, our people have advanced and progressed. Whenever we become divided, and the present reality is an example of that, we end up taking a giant step backwards,” he explained.

The cardinal went on to note that “national reconciliation” is an “unfinished task” of politicians and citizens. 

“Only from there can we better confront our weak points, the poverty of millions of Mexicans.”

Cardinal Rivera said the bicentennial festivities must not be reduced to fiestas or tributes to history.  

“The true celebration should be an occasion to renew our identity as a people, our pride as a nation and our appreciation of the country we have built together, with all of its values, including its profound religiosity and awareness of the transcendence of Jesus Christ,” he added.

The cardinal echoed the statements by the Mexican bishops in their pastoral letter marking the bicentennial, in which they set forth three priorities for the country: “A frontal assault on poverty, quality education and national reconciliation.”


Catholic congressman receives homosexual group’s award for opposing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Congressman Joseph Cao (R-La.), a self-described “proud co-sponsor” of a bill ending a policy against open homosexuals in the military, has received an award from the Log Cabin Republicans. 

He told the group that his Catholic faith and Jesuit background helped drive his support to change the ban.

The stance of Rep. Cao, who has previously cited his faith as a justification for other political positions, contradicts that of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese for Military Services who has opposed changes to the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.

Last Wednesday the Log Cabin Republicans held their 2010 National Dinner in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Hill Club. The group gave the “Spirit of Lincoln” Award to Rep. Cao, three other congressmen and a British MP. The award recognizes “leaders and allies who have been steadfast supporters of the fight for equal rights.”

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), was also honored by the group for a separate award. He did not attend the meeting, citing a last-minute scheduling conflict, but taped a video message for the event. 

In Rep. Cao’s acceptance speech, provided to CNA by the congressman’s office, he said that the DADT policy is “a tool for the military to weed gays out.” He protested the expulsion of more than 14,000 servicemen under the policy, saying military rules should not include “a built-in discriminatory bias based on sexual orientation.”

Senators opposed to the change were a “minority” engaged in “obstructionist tactics,” Cao contended, charging that they disregard “equality and justice for all.”

Invoking the civil rights movement, the congressman said there is “something universal” in the stories of those who suffer discrimination.

“Deep within the human spirit is a God-given hunger for fairness, goodness and truth, just as there is natural human repulsion for wrong, injustice and evil,” he commented, claiming that the “struggle”  of homosexual servicemen makes the United States a better country for everyone.

Rep. Cao also noted his own past, saying it gives him “common ground” with those outside the mainstream. He spent the first years of his life in wartime Vietnam, where his father was tortured by North Vietnamese Communists.

“As the first and only Vietnamese-American serving in Congress, I have a keen understanding of what it’s like to be a minority,” he continued, noting his past as a Jesuit seminarian who did missionary work in Mexico and Asia.

“During my time in Congress, I have made the cause of human rights a high-priority item on my legislative agenda. And still-driven by my Catholic faith and Jesuit background, I have been especially concerned for those whose voice is sometimes drowned out by the volume of political noise on Capitol Hill. Those include members of the Gay and Lesbian community,” the congressman told the Log Cabin Republicans.

Rep. Cao noted that he was one of only two GOP congressmen to co-sponsor changes to DADT. He also noted his co-sponsorship of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, his support for AIDS funding, and his opposition to anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda.

Professing a belief that all are created equal, he said he had “great faith” that “truth and justice will prevail” and so is not worried about the Senate filibuster against DADT changes.

“The obstructionists will only be able to hold out for so long, and it is up to us who stand against discrimination to usher in a better way at the first opportunity,” the congressman’s remarks concluded.

In a June 1 statement, Archbishop Thomas Broglio of the Catholic Archdiocese for Military Services opposed changes to DADT. He voiced concerns that changing the policy could affect Catholic chaplains and other servicemen. Noting the need for strong rules against immoral activity, he said moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations.”

A poll commissioned by The Military Culture Coalition (MCC) found that 37 percent of likely voters favor imposing career penalties on servicemen who oppose homosexuality, including chaplains, if the DADT policy is eliminated. These respondents say the military should try to change personal attitudes on the issue.

Rep. Cao was the only Republican to vote in favor of the first version of the House health care bill in 2009, which included the strong Stupak Amendment restrictions on abortion. He said his decision was affected by attending Mass and praying before the vote.

CNA sought further comment from Rep. Cao’s office. However, in a Monday e-mail Cao’s communications director Taylor Henry said the congressman was traveling and not available to respond.

The Log Cabin Republicans are participants in a federal lawsuit challenging the DADT policy. 

According to their website, the group also supports same-sex “marriage” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

In the past the group has been financed by the multi-millionaire homosexual activist Tim Gill of Colorado, a Democrat who typically backs Democratic-leaning causes.


Ambassador Kmiec remembers Msgr. Sheridan as an inspiration to faith

The death of Malibu’s Msgr. John V. Sheridan after a serious car accident has prompted U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec to reflect upon the priest’s life and the nature of faith.

On Aug. 25 Kmiec was driving in California with his friends Sr. Mary Campbell and retired pastor Msgr. John Sheridan when they suffered a single-car accident. 
Sr. Campbell, 74, died at the scene, while the 94-year-old monsignor died early in the morning on Sept. 17 from heart failure.

Kmiec praised his confessor Msgr. Sheridan’s “magnificent life of priestly fullness” in a recent column in The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Recounting a visit the day before he died, Kmiec said he “prayed into his ever kind, but then, physically pained eyes.”

“Those wonderful eyes that welcomed all and with every twinkle said ‘I understand; I am with you; nothing further is required; come walk in the beautiful hills at my side’.”

The ambassador saw “something distinctly proper and natural” in the scene of Msgr. Sheridan surrounded by surgeons:

“Here was the Monsignor surrounded by the most splendid minds in medicine holding forth by the sheer beauty and spiritual strength of his presence. The metaphorical portrait of Christ teaching on the mountain-top filled the room with the Holy Spirit in every respect.”

Kmiec said he entered the room and reached for the priest’s “gentle hand of kindness” which he had held immediately after the accident to pray the Rosary together.

While in his last weeks Msgr. Sheridan seemed to respond less by voice than by look, Kmiec thought the priest’s eyes did not ask why he himself was suffering, but rather sought to search for “the light of faith” in his onlooker’s eyes. His eyes did not presume to know God’s mind, but asked whether visitors still had “a believing heart.”

“I gave the great monsignor my ready affirmation, and as I did, it seemed as if his hand relaxed. Msgr. John's wit and intelligence towered over just about all, including myself, and his power of discernment of the truth was unsurpassed,” Kmiec wrote in The Tidings.

However, the ambassador confessed he was not sure whether his affirmation was without doubt.

“Forgive me, John, with so much of the present time occupied by horror and unbearable grief, I would be pretending if I said I grasped how this unneeded pain given to you is compatible with the idea of our being justified by a Savior whose own suffering is held forth in Holy Scripture as sufficient to redeem us all.”

This dilemma, to Kmiec’s mind, is “the crux of faith.”

He reported that Msgr. Sheridan recounted his first near-death experience at the age of 17 when County Longford doctors had given him up for dead.

At the age of 58, the priest wrote that death was “a source of radical frustration and loneliness.”

Wishing that he could eliminate this loneliness from those grieved by the priest’s death, 

Kmiec pledged: “If the way to see your welcoming and smiling face again, my dear Msgr. John, is to banish all doubt, then whatever time remains for me to walk the Malibu hills or the ancient pathways of St. Paul in Malta is time happily dedicated to keeping the faith alive,” Kmiec’s essay concluded. “…all of us who knew John Virgilus Sheridan have known and felt intimately the Lord's saving goodness, and we yearn for it still. Msgr. John V. Sheridan, Requiescat in Pace. I love you.”


USCCB pro-life chairman issues statement on upcoming Respect Life month

In light of the upcoming Respect Life Month of October, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston issued a statement on what he perceives to be the greatest threats to human dignity in society, calling on Catholics to work towards transforming culture “into one that welcomes every human person.”

Cardinal DiNardo, who serves as chairman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, opened his remarks on Sept. 28 by stating that with “each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.”

“With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions – due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child.” 

“Yet the loss of even one child,” he noted, “and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.”

“In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government,” the cardinal continued.
For example, although “Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins,” he said,  in “March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums.”

 “Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science,” he added, “when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research – and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda.”

A recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities which showed that “57 percent of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor” and “only 21 percent favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings,” said the prelate.

Despite the overarching opinion of Americans on this issue, however, the current Administration “issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law,” Cardinal DiNardo lamented.

“At the other end of life,” he went on, “seriously ill patients are again under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide.”

“Instead of addressing these patients’ real problems by providing love, support and relief of suffering, this agenda urges us to eliminate the patient as though he or she is the problem. Marching under the false banner of 'compassion' and 'choice,' it raises the fearsome prospect of a future in which the only 'choice' cheerfully granted to our most vulnerable patients is a lethal overdose of drugs.”

“While critics want to portray the Church’s witness as a narrow and negative ideology, it is just the opposite: A positive vision of the dignity of each and every human being without exception, each loved equally by God and so equally deserving of our love and our nation’s respect,” he underscored.
In his concluding remarks, Cardinal DiNardo stressed that “Our efforts, of course, must always be undergirded with prayer – the silent space for personal daily prayer that allows us to hear God’s voice deep in our hearts, and communal prayer that asks God to transform our culture into one that welcomes every human person.”


Senior Irish clergy called to Rome

The country's most senior clergymen have been called to Rome to discuss final preparations for a Vatican investigation of the Catholic Church here, which is due to get underway within the next month.

According to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Cardinal Sean Brady, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly, and Tuam’s Archbishop Michael Neary will travel to Rome next week.

Pope Benedict announced in March that he was planning to send a high powered delegation to Ireland in the wake of the reports into the Church’s mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse.

It is expected that the investigation will begin soon after the next week's meeting.


Anglican inquiry into SA bishop's alleged bullying

The Anglican Church will hold a special hearing in Adelaide on charges against a South Australian bishop for bullying and emotional abuse.

Bishop Ross Davies, who is facing the allegations, resigned from the Murray diocese last Friday after a lengthy period of sick leave, reports ABC.

The report said that it was unclear whether he would face any punishment now that he has resigned.

Murray Bridge parishioner, Lee Lyons, says she hopes the hearing will finalise the matter.

"I know that the bishop has resigned and I know that that's one step forward but there's also got to be closure for all the others things that have caused a lot of hurt and concern."

"I don't really feel that sort of feeling of vengeance. I really want to see that things are finalised and that there is some reckoning."

Police hospitalize fasting Kerala nun

Police in Kerala state today hospitalized a nun who is attempting a “fast-unto-death” to fight alleged mistreatment in her convent.

Police and some Catholics escorted 53-year-old Sister Teena Jose to hospital on the ninth day of her fast at her Congregation of Mother Carmel convent in Kochi.

Sister Jose says the convent once illegally expelled her but a court order forced it to take her back.

However, convent authorities do not treat her as part of the convent, she alleged.

She told over the phone that she is “on a hunger strike against the cruelty of the convent authorities.”

Police arrived at the convent this morning after some 50 lay Catholics from the Joint Christian Council protested in front of the convent’s premises demanding justice for the nun. 

Police also called doctors to examine the nun. Doctors said her blood pressure was high and that she needed hospitalization.

Her fast has been on local news channels since Sunday.

The nun first hit the national headlines in 2006 when she successfully fought the Bar Council of India’s objections to nuns and priests enrolling as advocates.

She then began practicing in Kerala’s High Court. 

She was later expelled from her convent after a road accident in June 2009.

The convent authorities then issued a press release saying Sister Jose had applied to quit the convent and her application was granted.

Sister Jose challenged this in court and won. 

She claims the convent now isolates and neglects her.

“It’s a shame for the Church and the congregation that a nun has to resort to a hunger strike for justice,” said Father George Pulikuthiyil, a priest and a lawyer.

Lay Catholics will continue to rally behind the nun and continue their protest, said Joint Christian Council general secretary Felix J. Pullooden.


Pill worsened gender inequality: Pell

Australian Cardinal George Pell has denounced the contraceptive pill for triggering a “redistribution of wealth and power from women and children to men”.

“This year is the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive pill, a development that has changed Western life enormously, in some ways most people do not understand,” Cardinal Pell of Sydney wrote in The Australian.

“While majority opinion regards the pill as a significant social benefit for giving women greater control of their fertility, the consensus is not overwhelming, especially among women.

“In an article in the ecumenical journal First Things that month, North American economist Timothy Reichert approached the topic with “straight-forward microeconomic reasoning”, concluding that contraception had triggered a redistribution of wealth and power from women and children to men,” Cardinal Pell wrote.

“Today’s advocates of the primacy of personal conscience urge Catholics to pick and choose among the church’s teachings on marriage, sexuality and life issues, although they generally allow fewer liberties in social justice or ecology.

“These changes, regarded as progressive or misguided depending on one’s viewpoint, are not coincidental but follow from the revolutionary consequences of the pill on moral thinking and social behaviour; on the broadening endorsement of a moral individualism that ignores or rejects as inevitable the damage inflicted on the social fabric. This revolution was reinforced by the music of the 1960s, for example Mick Jagger’s Rolling Stones, or the Beatles.

“While early Catholic supporters of the pill claimed it would diminish the number of abortions, this has not eventuated.

“Real-life experience suggests that the “contraceptive mentality” pope Paul VI warned about in 1968 has had unforeseen consequences. To paraphrase Reichert, an unwanted baby threatens prosperity and lifestyle, making abortion seem necessary,” Cardinal Pell concluded.


Catholicism is Korea’s ‘most trusted religion’

The Catholic Church is the most credible religion in Korea, according to a recently published poll in a popular current affairs magazine.

A wide-ranging survey recently conducted by the Sisain weekly showed that Catholicism came out on top as the most trusted religion,

Asked “to select two credible religions in Korea,” 57.6 percent of respondents selected Catholicism followed by Buddhism with 50.0 percent, Protestantism with 26.4 percent and Won Buddhism, 6.2 percent.

Won Buddhism is a native Korean religion.

The survey was jointly conducted by the magazine and Media Research on Sept. 1-2 in telephone interviews with 1,000 people aged 19 and above.

In Seoul, Catholicism had an approval rating of 62.3 percent.

The Church also came out on top with every generation, especially those in their 50s who gave an overwhelming 66.3 percent approval rating.

Sisain said the increasing number of Catholics and the Church’s high profile stance on social issues such as its opposition to a controversial government river project increased its credibility.

“The Church made its voice heard on social issues that other could not say in the name of faith. That won people’s favor and that’s why the Church has become most credible religion in Korea,” said Peter Lee Young-sik, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea media team on Sept. 27.

“Also, the clean image of Catholic priests and Religious and the sacredness of the Church also won the peoples’ trust,” he said.


Priest stands down amid abuse claim

A Catholic priest facing a child abuse allegation has stood down, it has been revealed.
Father Peter Donnelly, of Drumaroad parish, near Ballynahinch, Co Down, is under investigation over a complaint going back to the 1980s.

Fr Donnelly took up the ministry in Drumaroad three years ago and the Catholic Church has not disclosed where the alleged crime took place.

A spokesman from the diocese of Down and Connor stressed that the priest denies the claim.

"A complaint in relation to child safeguarding has been made against Fr Peter Donnelly, parish priest of Drumaroad," he said. "This complaint dates back to the 1980s.

"Fr Peter Donnelly denies this complaint. Fr Peter Donnelly, who has not been interviewed by the police as yet, will co-operate fully with the investigation.

"Fr Donnelly has voluntarily agreed to relinquish all pastoral duties while the investigation is being pursued. During the period of the investigation, Fr Donnelly continues to enjoy the natural right of every person to the presumption of innocence.

"In accordance with the paramountcy principle to safeguard children, the diocese of Down and Connor is co-operating fully with the civil authorities in their investigations in regard to this complaint. The diocese continues to work through its professional staff and its trained personnel together with the civil authorities in order to promote the safety of children."

He added: "I ask all of you to remember in your prayers all victims of sexual abuse and all who have suffered in any way because of that abuse. I ask you to keep Fr Peter Donnelly and all parishioners in your prayers at this time.

"We continue to encourage anyone who has a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, social services or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer."


Priests' group says boycott well supported

THE ASSOCIATION of Catholic Priests has insisted that a campaign to boycott weekend Masses received substantial support.

The newly formed group also criticised statements by the Catholic hierarchy – which claimed Mass numbers had not been affected – as unhelpful and “bordering on triumphalism”.

Jennifer Sleeman (81), from Clonakilty, Co Cork, had called on women to stay away from Mass in protest at their treatment as “second-class citizens” by the church.

In a statement on Saturday the Catholic Communications Office urged people to attend Mass as normal and pointed out that lay women contributed to all aspects of church life.

In a follow-up statement on Sunday, a spokesman said numbers attending Mass had held steady and, in some places, were up on recent weeks.

Yesterday, the Association of Catholic Priests said it acknowledged that the position of women in the Catholic Church was a difficult and often divisive issue.

But it said the issue needed to be faced and discussed as openly and calmly as possible.

“Jennifer Sleeman’s initiative this past weekend did not meet with universal approval, even among women. But it did receive substantial support,” the association said.

“We believe that neither of the hierarchy’s statements over the weekend was helpful.”

It said Saturday’s statement regarding women’s involvement in the church missed the point that women are at present excluded from many ministries and from all forms of decision-making.

“Unless we acknowledge the reality progress will not be made. Yesterday’s statement, saying that Mass attendance had not been affected, bordered on triumphalism,” the association said.

The group, which held its inaugural meeting earlier this month, said it knew of a “certain number of committed Catholic women who did not attend Mass this past weekend. It is crucial that we remain in respectful dialogue with such women”.

Ms Sleeman said yesterday that she was pleased with the feedback she had been getting from neighbours in Clonakilty, Co Cork, regarding the numbers participating in the boycott.

She said her boycott campaign was prompted by an upsurge in the number of women who wanted to be equal in the church.

Ms Sleeman added she was planning to return to Mass as normal today and would be reading at her local church.

The Catholic Communications Office’s statement on Saturday had encouraged people not to absent themselves from Mass.

“The celebration of the Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation is essential to the practice of the Catholic faith as the Sunday Eucharist is a pivotal aspect of the spiritual lives of Catholics,” the statement said.