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Washington Letter: Catholics’ clash over America’s Salvadoran policy in Archbishop Romero’s time recalled

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The upcoming beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero has inspired many U.S. Catholics to attend the May 23 ceremony in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador.

A man armed with a pistol runs from a burning car as another, left background, throws a Molotov cocktail during violence that erupted at Archbishop Oscar Romero's 1980 funeral in San Salvador, El Salvador. Debate over U.S.-Salvadoran policy during the time of his murder has been recalled prior to his May 23 beatification. (CNS photo/Ulises Rodriguez, Reuters)

A man armed with a pistol runs from a burning car as another, left background, throws a Molotov cocktail during violence that erupted at Archbishop Oscar Romero’s 1980 funeral in San Salvador, El Salvador. Debate over U.S.-Salvadoran policy during the time of his murder has been recalled prior to his May 23 beatification. (CNS photo/Ulises Rodriguez, Reuters)

The long hoped-for event has also reminded many that Catholics and other religious groups implored the U.S. government to change its policy toward the Salvadoran government before and after Archbishop Romero was gunned down during a March 1980 Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador.

Throughout the 1970s, the U.S. government paid close attention to political upheavals in Central America. Among the factors driving policy decisions were fears that the Soviet Union would gain influence by propping up communist regimes, as it had in Nicaragua after the Sandinista revolution. Populist movements in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were sources of concern, said Tom Quigley, former foreign policy adviser on Latin America and the Caribbean to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It was a Cold War-driven policy, Quigley told Catholic News Service. Congressional and administration analysts feared the Central American countries would go the way of Cuba as it all but became a Soviet satellite following its 1953-59 revolution, he said, and the Soviets would gain a foothold in the Americas.

The administrations of President Jimmy Carter and later President Ronald Reagan supported military aid for the Salvadoran government to fend off insurgencies under the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, an umbrella organization of five guerrilla groups.

While he had previously been thought of as a supporter of El Salvador’s ruling class, when then-Auxiliary Bishop Romero became archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, he emerged as a champion for the poor and an uncompromising critic of a government he said legitimized terror and assassinations.

While the new archbishop had no affection for the rebels, he strongly opposed North American military intervention or aid to a government he saw as oppressive.

“Many U.S. Catholics cited Romero in arguing for a change” in U.S. policy, said Theresa Keeley, a historian of foreign relations and religion and a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown University.

First the Carter administration and then the Reagan administration in the 1980s “characterized the Salvadoran government as centrist and in need of U.S. aid to withstand attacks from both the right and left,” Keeley told CNS.

Archbishop Romero used his pulpit to denounce actions of the government including its use of death squads and other violence and military occupation of churches, said Julian Filochowski, chairman of the Archbishop Romero Trust in London.

U.S. bishops and their policy staff listened to Archbishop Romero and began to lobby their own government to stop sending military aid to El Salvador, Keeley said.

Then-Archbishop Joseph Bernardin, who was president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, issued a major statement in July 1977 on persecution of the church in Central America. That was followed by congressional testimony on behalf of the church that same month, focusing mainly on the threats against the Jesuit community in El Salvador, following the murder of Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, Quigley said.

“No one was in any doubt, least of all those in the State Department or the White House, that the official (U.S. bishops’) position was highly critical of much of U.S. policy toward the region and was especially opposed to the provision of military aid to any parties in conflict there,” he said.

“Despite requests from religious groups that Carter end military aid to El Salvador as Archbishop Romero implored, the Carter administration continued with its request for Congress (for) $5.7 million for military aid to El Salvador,” Keeley said. “In fact, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee approved the administration’s request the day after Romero’s murder.”

Though the U.S. bishops were inspired by Archbishop Romero during his three-year tenure as archbishop of San Salvador, they were incensed by his assassination and it galvanized them to press their country’s leaders even harder to change course on Salvadoran policy, Quigley said.

Among U.S. critics of American policy, the bishops led the field.

“Local, national and international radio and television units interviewed (U.S. Catholic leaders) on what seemed at the time an almost routine basis,” Quigley said. “In 1980 and 1981 alone, (the U.S. bishops) issued no fewer than 14 official statements or letters expressing opposition to military aid.”

The Salvadoran civil war (1979-1992) brought more bloodshed to El Salvador, especially after Archbishop Romero’s murder.

In December 1980, four churchwomen — Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missioner Jean Donovan — were raped and murdered outside San Salvador.

“It was really the murders of the churchwomen… that galvanized a larger number of U.S. Catholics” to begin protesting support for the Salvadoran government, Keeley said. A major guerrilla offensive in January 1981”did not see the kind of spike in activity as these murders did.”

The war also took a toll against non-combatants, including the Nov. 16, 1989, murder of six Jesuits and two women at Central American University in San Salvador.

“The U.S. government, in my recollection, had little to say about the several murders of religious in the region except for those who were U.S. citizens,” Quigley said. “The church, however, was active in pressing the human rights and religious freedom issues throughout the region.”

Despite reports of the savage murders of men, women and children in El Salvador, the U.S. continued to provide the Salvadoran government with weapons, money and political support into the early 1990s.

 

‘Poltergeist’ fighting kit includes a lot of rope and a hand drill

May 22nd, 2015 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Hollywood’s preoccupation with remakes continues with “Poltergeist,” a reimagining of the 1982 horror film that gave new meaning to the term haunted house.

Family TVs have gotten much bigger since the first version of "Poltergeist" was filmed in 1982. he Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Fox)

Family TVs have gotten much bigger since the first version of “Poltergeist” was filmed in 1982. he Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS/Fox)

This time, a trio of producers (Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Roy Lee) takes over from Steven Spielberg. Along with a new director, Gil Kenan, they offer a 3-D take on the ordinary family suddenly caught in an otherworldly trap.

The result is a sometimes scary but mostly silly tale of suburbia under siege, suitable for mature viewers only.

The Bowen family is the picture of dysfunction. Dad Eric (Sam Rockwell) has lost his job. Mom Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) is distracted and unfulfilled.

Then there are the kids. Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is an obnoxious teen. Sensitive Griffin (Kyle Catlett) is afraid of the dark. And 6-year-old Madison (Kennedi Clements), cute as a button, talks incessantly to her imaginary friends.

The family, forced to downsize, moves into a new home on the edge of town. Problem is, the neighborhood was built atop an old cemetery.

Seems the real estate agent neglected to mention that fact.

Before long, things go bump in the night. “Poltergeist” largely follows the plot of the original film, with Madison talking to the television set, announcing, “They’re here.”

“They” are the spirits of the film’s title. Think really, really angry ghosts who make a really big mess and soon invite Madison to join them inside the closet.

Riding to the rescue is Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris), a goofy paranormal expert turned TV personality. Along with his ex-wife, Dr. Claire Powell (Jane Adams), a hand drill, and a whole lotta rope, Burke steps into the breach before it’s too late.

Needless to say, as the mayhem mounts, the house’s resale value plummets.

The film contains scenes of supernatural horror and child peril, and fleeting crude and profane language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

Allow the gaze of Jesus to change your life, Pope Francis says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The gaze of Jesus can change a person’s life just like it did with St. Peter, Pope Francis said.

“He always looks at us with love. He asks us something, he forgives us and he gives us a mission,” the pope said May 22 during his early morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.

During his May 22 homily, Pope Francis asked people to consider, “how is Jesus gazing upon me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission?” The above image of Jesus at the Last Supper is depicted in a stained-glass window at Christ the Redeemer Mausoleum in St. John Cemetery in the New York borough of Queens. /Gregory A. Shemitz)

During his May 22 homily, Pope Francis asked people to consider, “how is Jesus gazing upon me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission?” The above image of Jesus at the Last Supper is depicted in a stained-glass window at Christ the Redeemer Mausoleum in St. John Cemetery in the New York borough of Queens. /Gregory A. Shemitz)

Pope Francis suggested that members of the congregation welcome and receive Jesus in the Eucharist with the prayer, “Lord, you are here among us. Fix your gaze on me and tell me what I must do, how I must weep for my mistakes, my sins, and with what courage I must continue on the path you have traveled before me.”

The pope, who wakes up several hours before the 7 a.m. Mass to pray and prepare his homily, said he was struck that morning by the exchange of gazes in the day’s Gospel, John 21:15-19, which includes Jesus, after the resurrection, asking Peter three times if he loves him.

When Jesus first met his apostle, “Jesus fixed his gaze upon him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John; you will be called Peter,’” the pope said. “That was the first gaze, the gaze of mission” and Peter responded enthusiastically.

Then, after Jesus had been arrested and Peter denied Jesus three times, he feels the gaze of Jesus again and “weeps bitterly,” the pope said.

“The enthusiasm of following the Lord was turned into tears because he had sinned, he had denied Jesus,” the pope said. “That gaze changed Peter’s heart more than the first did. The first changed his name and vocation, but the second was a gaze that changed his heart; it was a conversion to love.”

The third gaze is recounted in the day’s Gospel, the pope said. Jesus looks at Peter, asks him if he loves him and tells him to feed his sheep.

The third gaze, he said, confirms Peter’s mission but also asks Peter to confirm his love.

The Gospel recounts more of the conversation, with Jesus warning Peter that his future will not be easy and that, in fact, he also will suffer and die.

Ask yourself, “how is Jesus gazing upon me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission?” the pope said.

 

Nebraska repeals the death penalty

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By Catholic News Service

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Legislature May 20 passed a measure to repeal the death penalty with enough votes to override Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ promised veto.

Members of the unicameral body gave final approval to the bill with a 32-15 vote.

At a news conference a week earlier, Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha joined about 15 religious leaders, priests and women religious in calling for an end to the death penalty in the state.

Noting that all life is sacred, Archbishop Lucas said he was pleased and privileged “to join friends from other faith communities at this important moment.”

The archbishop also noted he was representing the Nebraska Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s three Catholic bishops.

There are currently 11 prisoners on death row in Nebraska.

According to a posting on the Catholic conference’s website, a total of 37 people have been executed in Nebraska since it became a state in 1867. Thirty-four took place before 1972, the year the U.S. Supreme Court put a moratorium on use of the death penalty.

After the high court restored the death penalty in 1976, the state executed three men: Harold Otey in 1994, John Joubert in 1996 and Robert Williams in 1997.

Nebraska lawmakers voted in 1979 to prohibit capital punishment, but then-Gov. Charlie Thone vetoed the measure and the Legislature did not have enough votes to override it.

News reports have made much of the fact that the Republican lawmakers were among those pushing to repeal the death penalty. Ricketts had five days to sign or veto the bill before it becomes law automatically. If it becomes law, L.B 268, will apply retroactively, giving those currently on death row a sentence of life without parole.

Catholic teaching recognizes the state has recourse to the death penalty if it is the only available means to protect society from a grave threat to human life, Archbishop Lucas said in the news conference, held May 13 at the Omaha Press Club. But because of improvements in the penal system, such cases are rare, if not practically nonexistent, he said.

The death penalty does not provide rehabilitation and there is no clear evidence that executions deter crime, the archbishop said. At the same time, some criminals will never be fit for reintegration into society and just sentences are needed to keep Nebraskans safe, he said.

“Public safety can be assured through other means,” the archbishop said. “And justice requires punishment, but it does not require that those who have committed capital crimes be put to death.”

 

Holiday weekend movie? Man, girl and robot save the future

May 22nd, 2015 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Against all expectations, Walt Disney took a theme park ride, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and turned it into a blockbuster film franchise.

Britt Robertson stars in a scene from the movie "Tomorrowland." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.(CNS photo/Disney)

Britt Robertson stars in a scene from the movie “Tomorrowland.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.(CNS photo/Disney)

Now the studio has similar hopes for an entire theme park area in “Tomorrowland.”

The result? “Tomorrowland” is a delightful science-fiction film and great fun for the entire family.

Directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), who co-wrote the screenplay with Damon Lindelof (TV’s “Lost”), “Tomorrowland” is bursting with optimism and enthusiasm. Its hopeful view of the future is a refreshing contrast to the depressing dystopian vision that has dominated Hollywood films of late.

The film borrows the name but little else from the futuristic-themed section of Disneyland and other Disney parks. Instead, there’s a meticulous recreation of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which was a showcase of future ideas and innovations.

There Disney created the “It’s a Small World” ride to promote global harmony. In the film, it serves as the gateway to the gleaming utopia that exists, “Twilight Zone”-like, in another dimension.

Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, a whiz-kid boy inventor, Frank (Thomas Robinson), takes a detour on the ride into Tomorrowland.

He’s lured there by a mysterious girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Her mission is to recruit the best and brightest talent on Earth to learn from a place of peace and promise.

Fast-forward 40 years, and something has gone awry. Earth is fraught with problems, including war and natural disasters. Despair fills the air, and the future is far from bright.

In school, Casey (Britt Robertson) is frustrated by all the gloom and doom. “I get things are bad,” she tells her teacher. “What are we doing to fix it?”

Casey is a dreamer, inspired by her father, Eddie (Tim McGraw), a NASA engineer. But even NASA is being dismantled, along with Casey’s dream of reaching the stars.

Before you can say “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” Athena reappears, looking none the worse for wear, for she is actually a sophisticated (and ageless) robot. She recruits Casey for a special mission: to save Tomorrowland. The city has fallen under the spell of a coldhearted bureaucrat called Nix (Hugh Laurie), who is responsible for wreaking havoc on earth.

Why Casey is the savior is anyone’s guess. With Athena in tow, she looks up Frank, who has aged into the dashing George Clooney. Twenty years ago, Frank was banished from Tomorrowland for threatening to expose the conspiracy.

“Tomorrowland” morphs into a buddy movie as man, girl and robot race against time to, literally, save the future.

The action sequences in the film have a cartoonish quality, but the ray guns and decapitations (of robots) may upset the younger set. Others will be equally amused and enchanted.

In the end, the film takes a cue from a Disney anthem composed for the World’s Fair: “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

The film contains cartoonish but bloodless action sequences and a few mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II, adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG, parental guidance suggested.

 

Grads at Catholic colleges urged to ‘do good,’ work hard and be confident

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A best-selling suspense novelist, a four-time Grammy winner, a Chicago archbishop and a New York cardinal, and lawmakers and corporate leaders were among speakers at undergraduate commencements this spring at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges.

And at least one family had three children in the class of 2015: the Marbach triplets, Melanie, Megan and John Jr., each graduating from a different university in a different state on a different date.

Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, poses for a photo with Laetare Medal awardee Aaron Neville at the university's 2015 commencement ceremony May 17. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame)

Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, poses for a photo with Laetare Medal awardee Aaron Neville at the university’s 2015 commencement ceremony May 17. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame)

In Washington at The Catholic University of America’s 126th annual commencement May 16, novelist Mary Higgins Clark told graduates to trust in God as their own life story unfolds.

That day, she said, they would begin writing the prologue of “your own suspense novel, and It’s called, ‘The Rest of My Life.’”

Author of 42 books and a lifelong Catholic, Higgins Clark said the graduates — whether they will be starting a new job, continuing their studies or pursuing a religious vocation — will now be protagonists in their own life story.

Like the protagonist in her own novels, she urged each one to “be a person who combines faith, optimism, intelligence, generosity and a good sense of humor.”

The ability to laugh at oneself and at fate “is a cure for both body and mind,” she said, adding that she always tries to give protagonists a good friend, too. “That buddy may be a parent, a sibling, a lifetime pal, but I want all of you to have that kind of person in your life,” she said, adding that her protagonists often find a love interest, “the person who may share your life with you.”

Any good novel, and a good life, inevitably has challenges and problems that need to be solved, Higgins Clark said. “I pray that you, the protagonist, will face up to your problems with determination and strength,” she said.

In Indiana, Aaron Neville, a four-time Grammy Award-winning singer and musician, received the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal May 17. The honor has been given annually since 1883 to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

Neville delivered brief remarks in accepting the medal and then sang the “Ave Maria” for the crowd.

“I am honored and humbled to be receiving such a prestigious medal. I hope I’m worthy of standing next to the people who have received it before me,” he said. “If it’s for me trying to get my life on the right track the way God wanted me too, then I am worthy, because I know, and God knows, that I’ve tried. I’ve prayed to see the world through God’s eyes and asked that the world see God in me.”

“My early life has been a preview of where I am now. It took who I was and where I came from to make me who I am. For that I have to thank my late parents, Arthur and Amelia Neville,” the singer continued. “They, along with the nuns at St. Monica’s Catholic School, especially Sister Damien, taught me morals and guidance.”

He said his Catholic upbringing “helped me in some dark times. One dark night, I remembered a poem I had to memorize and recite in front of the class in maybe the fifth grade. Later, I put music to it and recorded it. The poem was ‘Lovely Lady, Dressed in Blue, Teach Me How to Pray.’”

Neville said he “was always mesmerized by the Blessed Mother, and was grateful to get the chance to learn the ‘Ave Maria.’ I didn’t know what the words meant, but a lady asked me to sing it at her sister’s wedding, so I learned it and have been singing it ever since. … To close, I’d like to sing it for you.”

For John Marbach and Sherry Pressler of Belle Mead, N.J., it was a wild ride as their triplets graduated from college: Melanie from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore May 16; Megan from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., May 17; and John Jr. from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., May 18.

“Four nights out, three different hotels, train tickets, car travel and airplane travel, wow,” said Sherry.

The planning of the trip got underway in 2010. Even then, Sherry and John worried about the triplets’ college graduations being on the same day. “When they were choosing where to attend college four years ago, I remember checking the graduation calendars,” said Sherry. “I would be heartbroken not to be able to attend all three graduation ceremonies.”

Added John: “All three children felt it was important to attend each other’s graduation.”

“The whole family feels incredibly lucky that the ceremonies fall on different days,” said Megan, who was graduating from Fairfield University’s School of Nursing. “Melanie and John are my best friends for life, so I wouldn’t miss their graduations for anything.”

In his commencement address at Boston College May 18, Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich told the graduates, “You make us all proud and you are, for all of us today, evidence of the givenness of life, the eternal truth that God’s grace is never exhausted.”

“The world needs the hope of those who know and are inspired by the givenness of life, the grace of life. Keeping fresh that sense of givenness will have an impact not only on you but on our world,” the archbishop said. “It will help you become the leaders we need today, in the world of business, our politics and the economy.

“Leaders who, as Pope Francis has urged, promote the common good and measure economic health by how the economy treats the poor, and leaders who advocate for inclusion and economic security for all.”

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, speaking May17 at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, told students that “knowledge is what’s in your noggin. Wisdom is what’s in your heart and soul. Knowledge teaches us how to get, and wisdom teaches us how to give. Knowledge teaches us how things operate and work, and wisdom teaches us how things are.”

Other speakers at commencements included:

  • First lady Nana Lordina Dramani Mahama of Ghana, Fordham University, May 16.
  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, St. Joseph’s University, May 16.
  • Garry Kasparov, world champion chess grandmaster, St. Louis University, May 16.
  • Catherine M. Burzik, general partner at Targeted Technologies, Canisius College, May 16.
  • Sister Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill, a Sister of Charity, at Marquette University, May 17. An alumna of Marquette, Sister O’Neill is founder of El Centro Arte Para la Paz in El Salvador, an agency dedicated to helping the country’s poor and marginalized.
  • Bishop David M. O’Connell of Trenton, New Jersey, at St. John’s University in the New York borough of Queens, May 17.

In graduation ceremonies May 3, the University of Dayton in Ohio gave an honorary degree to Ramon Estevez, better known as Martin Sheen. He was honored for his lifelong commitment to peace, social justice and human rights exemplifying the Marianist university’s mission.

Sheen intentionally failed his University of Dayton entrance exam to overcome his father’s objections and start his acting career.

 

St. Mark’s, Sals grab top spots in baseball tournament, Auks also in; Padua in softball tourney

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Dialog reporter

 

St. Mark’s earned the top seed in the state baseball postseason bracket and will look to regain its Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association championship over the next week and a half. The Spartans, who sport a 15-3 record, open play Saturday at home vs. No. 16 Milford at 2 p.m.

The Spartans are one of three Catholic schools in the tournament. On the other side of the bracket, Salesianum earned the second seed after a 15-3 season. The Sals host No. 15 Sussex Central Saturday, also at 2 p.m. Sallies and the Golden Knights went down the wire when they met on April 11 downstate; Salesianum escaped with a 5-4 win after scoring two runs in the top of the seventh inning. Read more »

God will judge people on care for the poor and the environment, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The powerful of the earth will face God’s judgment and will be asked to account for how they cared for the poor and how they cared for the environment so that it could produce food for all, Pope Francis said.

“The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone,” Pope Francis said May 12 during his homily at a Mass opening the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The network of 164 Catholic charities, who were to welcome Caritas South Sudan as the confederation’s 165th member, was to focus on the theme, “One Human Family, Caring for Creation.” Read more »

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Document on Father Peyton, “rosary priest,” is early step in sainthood cause

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EASTON, Mass. — Presentation of the “positio,” or official position paper, on the life and holiness of Father Patrick Peyton to a Vatican congregation is the latest step in the sainthood cause of the Holy Cross priest.

A May 18 statement issued by Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton said the document was four years in the making and is the synthesis of a 6,000-page report completed by tribunals in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and 34 other dioceses around the world. Read more »

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Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis, chronicler of black Catholic history, dies

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MEINRAD, Ind. — A funeral Mass will be celebrated May 21 at St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad for Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis, who died May 18 at Memorial Hospital in Jasper. He was 84.

Father Davis wrote six books, including “The History of Black Catholics in the United States,” published in 1990. He was working on a revised edition of the book at the time of his death. Read more »

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