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Marlins’ fans remember Jose Fernandez with prayers at Cuban shrine

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Catholic News Service

MIAMI — South Florida’s Cuban-American Catholic community and other Miami Marlins baseball fans honored Jose Fernandez with prayers at the Cuban shrine and a public parade Sept. 28, a day before his private funeral.

A moment of silence is observed for Miami Marlins Jose Fernandez prior to the New York Yankees taking on the Boston Red Sox Sept. 27 at Yankee Stadium. The 24-year-old pitcher, who defected from Cuba at 15 and went on to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed Sept. 25 in a boating accident in Miami Beach, along with two other men. (CNS photo/Adam Hunger, USA TODAY)

A moment of silence is observed for Miami Marlins Jose Fernandez prior to the New York Yankees taking on the Boston Red Sox Sept. 27 at Yankee Stadium. The 24-year-old pitcher, who defected from Cuba at 15 and went on to become one of baseball’s brightest stars, was killed Sept. 25 in a boating accident in Miami Beach, along with two other men. (CNS photo/Adam Hunger, USA TODAY)

Fernandez, a pitcher and popular Cuban-American member of the Marlins team, died Sept. 25 following a tragic boating accident that also took the lives of two of his companions. They were on a late-night outing when their craft struck a jetty near Miami Beach.

With fans gathered at the West Plaza at Marlins Park, and then processed to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity near Miami’s Biscayne Bay and not far from the accident.

The procession then to proceeded to St. Brendan Catholic Church in Miami where a public visitation was scheduled. A private funeral for Fernandez was to be held Sept. 29.

Father Juan Rumin Dominguez, rector of Our Lady of Charity shrine, described Fernandez as “the young face of the Cuban diaspora.’

“This is a young man who is a source of pride for us Cubans, an example for our community and especially for Cuban young people,” said Father Dominguez.

“He was able to reach the highest goals. That’s why he’s an example to our Cuban young people,” the priest said. “He demonstrated that with dedication and effort, you can achieve the highest goals in this country.”

Other clergy throughout the region reportedly referred to the tragedy in their homilies and offered prayers for Fernandez Sept. 25.

Fernandez, 24, and two other men were killed early that Sunday when his 32-foot SeaVee boat slammed into a rock jetty that extends off the southern tip of Miami Beach.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission continues to investigate the crash. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner has not yet released toxicology results.

Fans established a makeshift memorial on the plaza outside the ballpark entrance, leaving dozens of flower arrangements — daisies, carnations, roses and lilies — the result as colorful as Fernandez’s personality. There also were candles, and messages scrawled on balls, balloons, photos and jerseys.

A spokeswoman for American Social Bar & Restaurant in Miami reportedly confirmed Sept. 27 to news media that Fernandez was a patron at the establishment before the crash. The bar is along the Miami River and allows boats to dock alongside.

Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, also died in the accident.

Since the tragedy, the Marlins have been grieving while also returning to playing games. In evening game Sept. 26, they defeated the Mets in an emotional and tearful game.

“I think the routine of the game is really good for you,” manager Don Mattingly said in a news release posted on the Marlins website. “You’ve been doing this almost the whole season. Yeah, we feel it’s almost like autopilot, fielding ground balls, take at-bats. It’s almost mindless. So it does good to be on the field. It feels good to prepare for a game.”

 

Contributing to this story was Ana Rodriguez-Soto.

Benedictine abbot recalls Palmer’s connection to Latrobe abbey

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Catholic News Service

Benedictine Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki of St. Vincent’s Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was with Arnold Palmer when the golfing great died Sept. 25 in Pittsburgh.

Former champion Arnold Palmer of the U.S hits from a sand trap during the 2008 annual Masters Par 3 golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Palmer, known as "the King" for his transformative legacy in golf, died Sept. 25 at a Pittsburgh hospital at age 87. (CNS photo/Hans Deryk, Reuters)

Former champion Arnold Palmer of the U.S hits from a sand trap during the 2008 annual Masters Par 3 golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Palmer, known as “the King” for his transformative legacy in golf, died Sept. 25 at a Pittsburgh hospital at age 87. (CNS photo/Hans Deryk, Reuters)

It wasn’t the first time Archabbot Nowicki had visited Palmer that day. Palmer, 87, was in a hospital awaiting a heart operation scheduled for Sept. 26. “I went to say a prayer and give him a blessing. About an hour after I’d departed, I got a call” that Palmer’s health was failing rapidly, the archabbot said in a Sept. 26 telephone interview.

Even though Palmer was a lifelong Presbyterian, he’d had a relationship with St. Vincent’s spanning more than 50 years, when Archabbot Nowicki was in the high school at the archabbey.

Palmer did not let denominational differences deter him. “Arnie sort of appealed to everyone. There were no barriers, race, color, creed — those were things that never entered into” his mind, Archabbot Nowicki said. “He was welcoming to everybody and treated everyone with tremendous warmth and respect.” Palmer came with his wife on occasion to the archabbey’s 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass.

“I remember him coming here on one occasion after winning several of the golf tournaments early in his career. He was hitting golf balls for the students. By then he had a fairly good reputation,” Archabbot Nowicki recalled. “He would give a little demonstration. I remember when he was doing it they put a little trash pail out in the middle, about 150 yards out, and he was hitting balls out and he got about five in the tanker,” he chuckled.

“The first time he invited me over, I told him I didn’t know how to play, so I sent my prior, Father Albert. But this was after he retired professionally. But he still played golf, every day at Latrobe Country Club.” When the archabbot saw Palmer again, he said Palmer told him, “The next time you send someone, send someone who is as good as your prior. This guy cost me 20 bucks.”

“Arnie, as you know, was competitive and enjoyed playing with good golfers,” Archabbot Nowicki said.

“Fred Rogers (of ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ fame) and Arnie Palmer went to the same school together. I think they were one year apart. They were very good friends during his lifetime,” the archabbot said. “Arnie’s father taught Mr. Rogers how to play golf. … (Rogers) “said that his father taught Arnie better than he taught him.”

In retirement, Palmer lived five months of the year in his native Latrobe. Not only did he and his first wife, Winnie, who died in 1999, lend their name and their presence to various archabbey events, Winnie Palmer was “very helpful at keeping Wal-Mart out of our backyard,” Archabbot Nowicki said. Arnold Palmer also served on the St. Vincent’s College board of directors. In 1996 the college gave Palmer an honorary degree.

Archabbot Nowicki took up Palmer’s invitation to join him when the golfing legend received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012. Jack Nicklaus was there and he paid tribute to Arnie at the service, the archabbot recalled. “I know Jack had always been a wonderful friend of Arnie’s, and the two enjoyed each other’s company.”

The archabbot remembered visiting Palmer at his Bay Hill Golf Club near Orlando, Florida. “He had given one of our commencement addresses. He talked about the importance of decorum. He said, ‘That means when you enter a room that you take your hat off.’” At the club, a man “came into the dining room and had his hat on. Arnie said very gently to him, ‘Will you please take off your hat?’ He had that respect for people.”

Palmer learned golf from his father, who was the greenskeeper at the Latrobe Country Club. He attended what was then Wake Forest College on a golf scholarship. He left school and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, serving for three years. In 1954, he won the U.S. Amateur golf tournament; a year later he won the Canadian Open, and his golf career was launched.

Palmer won 95 professional championships, including 62 on the PGA Tour, and seven major tournaments. He earned $1.6 million in prize money, and another $50 million in golf-related business off the course. He also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.

The archabbey will hold a memorial service for Palmer Oct. 4 at the basilica on the archabbey grounds.

Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Bishop Jugis calls all to pray for peace, justice in Charlotte after nights of violence

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Catholic News Service

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After two nights of violence in Charlotte, Bishop Peter J. Jugis called on men, women and children in the Diocese of Charlotte to join him in prayers for peace and justice for all victims of violence and for law enforcement personnel who have been victims of “unjust violence.”

A man confronts riot police during Sept. 21 protests in Charlotte, N.C., after police fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex. (CNS photo/Jason Miczek, Reuters) See CHARLOTTE-SHOOTING-REACT Sept. 22, 2016.

A man confronts riot police during Sept. 21 protests in Charlotte, N.C., after police fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex. (CNS photo/Jason Miczek, Reuters) See CHARLOTTE-SHOOTING-REACT Sept. 22, 2016.

“Let us pray for all men and women of good will to be instruments of harmony and the always-shining light of Christ in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and public places,” the bishop said in a statement Sept. 22.

The protests late Sept. 20 and Sept. 21, with the crowds swelling at one point to 1,000 people, followed the fatal police shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, an African-American, outside an apartment complex the afternoon of Sept. 20.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said while they were trying to serve a warrant on another person in the area, Scott approached them from his parked car carrying a handgun and ignoring their calls to drop it.

In their statement, police said Officer Brentley Vinson, who also is an African-American, perceived an “imminent deadly threat” and shot Scott. Scott later died at a local hospital.

Family members insisted that Scott was unarmed and was reading a book while waiting in the parking lot to pick up his son from a nearly school bus stop. Police said they recovered a weapon from the scene, not a book.

Vinson has been placed on administrative leave while police conduct an investigation that includes eyewitness interviews and review of police video footage.

When Scott family members took to social media to criticize police the evening of Sept. 20, people began to gather at the site of the shooting. By 11 p.m., the protest had swelled to about 1,000 people.

When some protesters began throwing rocks and smashing the windows of several police cars, police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, but people continued to protest and block two roadways and, at one point, a nearby segment of Interstate 85, until early morning Sept. 21.

Police arrested one person. More than a dozen police officers were slightly injured in the melee. Local television video also showed a few people looting and burning the cargo of a semi-truck that had stopped on the Interstate.

Protests turned violent for a second night Sept. 21 in uptown Charlotte, about 10 miles away from the site of the fatal police shooting, with several people injured and several businesses vandalized and looted. One young man was shot in the head reportedly by another civilian. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support; he died Sept. 22.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police again used tear gas to try to clear the crowd, some of whom tried to block a section of Interstate 277 as they departed the protest area.

“My heart bleeds for what is going on right now,” said Gov. Pat McCrory, who declared a state of emergency late that night after a request from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney. The emergency notice triggered the North Carolina National Guard and the State Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement in responding to the violence.

“Let’s pray for our city and let’s pray for peace,” added McCrory, who was Charlotte’s mayor from 1995 to 2009.

At a news conference Sept. 22, Putney said he would allow the family to view the footage, but it would not be released to the public.

At St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, just a few blocks from the scene of the police shooting and the protests there, about 150 people gathered Sept. 21 to pray for peace.

During the evening eucharistic adoration and benediction, Father Patrick Winslow, pastor, offered prayers for police and for people who have suffered injustice, as well as prayers for his neighborhood and the city of Charlotte.

“Last evening we were all taken by surprise when two events collided here in Charlotte — you could even say, in our own backyard,” Father Winslow said. “One, the national ongoing concern about racism in law enforcement and, two, the incident of an African-American man who lost his life in an altercation with local police.”

“In times such as these, it is good to recall that light shines in the darkness, and it must shine through you,” Father Winslow urged parishioners. “Knowing the genuine spirit of our parishioners, I am confident that you will embrace a path of peace, prayer and charity.”

History makes it clear, the priest said, that the light that vanquishes the darkness is not on the battlefield between nations or races, or “in the streets of Charlotte or any U.S. city.” “The true battlefield is within the human heart, within each of us,” he said.

“Injustice must be defeated” in the heart, the priest said. “This is where prejudice and unjust discrimination live. This is the place from which fear and darkness enter the world. And likewise, it is the place where it can be vanquished.”

He urged people to “storm and loot your hearts, not the streets, if you want true change for the good. Vanquish the enemy within and then you will truly help your neighbor.”

By Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor of the Catholic News Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte.

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Retired Archbishop Gerety of Newark, NJ, dies at 104

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TOTOWA, N.J. — Retired Archbishop Peter L. Gerety of Newark died Sept. 20 while in the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor at the order’s elder-care facility in Totowa. He was 104.

Retired Archbishop Peter L. Gerety of Newark, N.J., the world's oldest Catholic bishop, died at age 104 Sept. 20 at St. Joseph's Home for the Elderly in Totowa, N.J. He is pictured in a 2010 photo. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Retired Archbishop Peter L. Gerety of Newark, N.J., the world’s oldest Catholic bishop, died at age 104 Sept. 20 at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Totowa, N.J. He is pictured in a 2010 photo. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

According to a remembrance of Archbishop Gerety posted Sept. 21 by the Archdiocese of Newark on its website, Archbishop Gerety was the world’s oldest Catholic bishop at the time of his death. By 2007, when he was 95, he was already the oldest living U.S. bishop.

Archbishop Gerety’s body will be received at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart the afternoon of Sept. 25 for the viewing, which will last until 6:30 p.m. local time.

On Sept. 26, a 3 p.m. funeral Mass will follow a four-hour period for viewing. Newark Archbishop John J. Myers will be the main celebrant of the Mass, to be followed immediately by internment in the crypt of the cathedral basilica.

Archbishop Myers in a Sept. 21 statement called Archbishop Gerety “a remarkable churchman whose love for the people of God was always strong and ever-growing.”

“He served as shepherd of this great archdiocese during a time of spiritual reawakening in the years after the Second Vatican Council, and a time of deep financial difficulties,” he added. “He very carefully led the church, her people and institutions through those challenges.”

Archbishop Gerety had been retired as head of the Newark Archdiocese for 30 years at the time of his death. He was Newark’s archbishop for 12 years. Before that he spent five years as the bishop of Portland, Maine; he had been coadjutor bishop of the statewide diocese for three years prior.

During his tenure in Newark, Archbishop Gerety helped create Renew International, the parish renewal program still in wide use among U.S. parishes today. Renew also has created several other parish renewal programs, including one that has been used in more than two dozen countries outside the United States.

Because Renew’s use was so widespread, Archbishop Gerety asked the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine in 1988 to evaluate it. Some groups in dioceses where it was being used were publicly critical of it.

The committee’s report praised many aspects of Renew, but said participants needed to be given a more complete understanding of Catholic faith and doctrine, and small-group leaders were to be more than just facilitators who accepted all the participants’ contributions as equally valid. Revisions suggested by the committee were made.

In a 2007 interview with The Catholic Advocate, Newark’s archdiocesan newspaper, he noted how he had been ordained a bishop shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council. He noticed one important change was a shift from the “top-down” mentality that had prevailed at that time in the church.

Archbishop Gerety said the liturgy “improved tremendously” at that time, centering on increased participation among laypeople. Another major change he saw was the formation of parish councils and similar programs. In fact, he said one of his prized possessions was a stone tablet inscribed with a pledge he made in his early days in Newark when he said in a speech on April 18, 1975: “I am totally committed to parish councils by April 15, 1976.”

Born July 19, 1912, in Shelton, Conn., Leo, as his parents called him, won academic honors at Shelton High School and was captain of the football team. He was the eldest of nine sons.

His mother and father, Peter L. and Charlotte Daly Gerety, “had a tremendous religious faith, and a tremendously optimistic view of life. They loved life very much. They taught us we could do almost anything,” the archbishop once said.

After working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Transportation Department, the future archbishop entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn., and was chosen for study abroad at St. Sulpice Seminary in Issy, France. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., in 1939 at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris.

One hallmark of his service in the Archdiocese of Hartford was ministry to black Catholics in New Haven. He founded an interracial social and religious center, the St. Martin de Porres Center, which gained parish status in 1956 with then-Father Gerety as its first pastor. In the 1960s, he founded the New Haven chapter of the Urban League and was a member of the Connecticut State Committee on Race and Religion and the National Catholic Conference on Interracial Justice.

As bishop of Portland, Archbishop Gerety was active in pro-life and social justice causes, led campaigns to protest state legislative efforts to legalize abortion, and defended the rights of conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War.

In Newark, Archbishop Gerety expanded outreach to black and Hispanic Catholics, and shored up a deteriorating archdiocesan financial base. On a national stage, he was known for his work with the Call to Action Committee, formed at the time of the U.S. bicentennial celebration in 1976 to address and discuss the needs U.S. Catholics.

The eldest of nine brothers, Archbishop Gerety outlived all of them. He is survived by many nephews and nieces, as well as their children.

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Pope names Atlanta auxiliary as coadjutor bishop for Louisiana diocese

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop David P. Talley of Atlanta as coadjutor of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana.

The appointment was announced in Washington Sept. 21 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop David P. Talley of Atlanta as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria, La. (CNS/Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin)

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop David P. Talley of Atlanta as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria, La. (CNS/Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin)

Bishop Talley, a priest of the Atlanta Archdiocese, was named an auxiliary bishop of Atlanta in January 2013 and was ordained a bishop in April of that year.

Bishop Ronald P. Herzog is the bishop of Alexandria; he has headed the diocese since 2005. As coadjutor, Bishop Talley automatically becomes head of the diocese upon the death or retirement of its bishop.

“Pope Francis has given the people of the Diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana a tremendous pastoral gift,” Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in a statement. “Bishop Talley is a servant minister of our church, who is graced with extraordinary wisdom, patience, kindness, and dedication.

“He developed those gifts as priest and bishop here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where he always cared for our people as a true minister of mercy and kindness.”

Bishop Talley has served the archdiocese in a number of capacities including as director of vocations, tribunal judge, judicial vicar and chancellor, and has served on the archdiocese’s Hispanic ministry board and on its advisory board representing priests.

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Sept. 11, 1950, he pursued seminary studies at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana. He was ordained for the Atlanta Archdiocese in 1989.

His first assignment was as parochial vicar of St. Jude Parish in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He was there until 1993, when he began post-graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in canon law in 1998. In 2001, St. John Paul II named him a monsignor.

He has served other parishes as administrator, pastor and parochial vicar. He last assignment before being named an auxiliary bishop was as pastor of St. Brigid Parish in Johns Creek, Georgia, from 2011 to 2013.

The Diocese of Alexandria comprises 11,108 square miles in central Louisiana. It has a population of 368,065 people of whom, 36,280, or 10 percent, are Catholic.

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Official overseeing Guam archdiocese asks Vatican for archbishop’s removal

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam, said he asked the Vatican for the removal of Archbishop Anthony Apuron, given his refusal to resign on his own accord.

Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam, is pictured in a 2012 photo at the Vatican. While not removing Archbishop Apuron, Pope Francis named a top Vatican official to serve as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam, is pictured in a 2012 photo at the Vatican. While not removing Archbishop Apuron, Pope Francis named a top Vatican official to serve as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese. (CNS/Paul Haring)

In a letter, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai said, “Gravely serious allegations against Archbishop Apuron” of sexual abuse mean the situation also “will continue to be dealt with by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will hold a canonical trial.”

Pope Francis was “monitoring the proceedings,” he said in the letter read at Sunday Masses in the archdiocese Sept. 18. Archbishop Hon said he was still in Rome “to urge the Holy See to remove Archbishop Apuron as Archbishop of Agana and to appoint a successor.” The archdiocese published the letter on its website Sept. 17.

The request, he said, was supported by the archdiocese’s presbyteral council, which had issued a letter to Archbishop Apuron requesting he resign, followed by a letter to the Holy See requesting his removal given that the archbishop did not step down.

In mid-May, Roy Quintanilla told the media that Archbishop Apuron had sexually abused him 40 years ago when Quintanilla was a 12-year-old altar server at a parish in Agat, Guam, where then-Father Apuron was pastor. The archbishop denied the accusation.

After Quintanilla went public, at least five other people came forward accusing the archbishop of abusing them when they were altar boys.

Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Hon, the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to be apostolic administrator of the archdiocese in June. While Archbishop Apuron still remained the archbishop of Agana, he no longer held any pastoral responsibilities and administrative authority.

In his letter, Archbishop Hon said that “on behalf of the church, I want to apologize personally to the survivors of sexual abuse everywhere who have suffered so much at the hands of the clergy.”

“We cannot undo the appalling betrayal of trust and faith and the horrendous acts” that clergy have committed, the letter said, but “we are committed to helping them heal in body and soul.”

But at the same time, Archbishop Hon urged parishioners to voice opposition to a bill that would lift the statute of limitations on lawsuits by victims who suffered sexual abuse as minors against the perpetrators and the institutions associated with them.

The bill passed unanimously in the state legislature Sept 12 and the governor has until Sept. 22 to act on it or it will automatically become law Sept. 23 without a signature. A number of survivors have voiced their support of the law, which would be retroactive and allow them to file lawsuits for abuse that occurred decades ago.

In his letter, titled “Putting the house in order without burning it down,” Archbishop Hon said he understands one way victims address their pain is to have access to the court system. However, he said, permitting such retroactive lawsuits would expose the archdiocese “to unlimited financial liability.”

Just as many U.S. dioceses declared bankruptcy in the wake of lawsuit settlements, the Archdiocese of Agana would run the same risk, forcing the sale of church properties that house schools and social services. The bill, if passed, he said, would “erase the good work of those in the archdiocese who serve the neediest.”

Archbishop Hon said the archdiocese was creating a fund “to provide survivors with financial compensation for all they have gone through” and was setting up a task force to raise awareness about the need to protect children and to strengthen policies and procedures so that those who abuse children “are brought to account.”

Archbishop Hon had gone to Rome Sept. 2 to help with a seminar for new bishops as part of his duty as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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Scholars reaffirm Pope Paul’s 1968 teaching against artificial birth control

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WASHINGTON — A group of Catholic scholars Sept. 20 reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on “the gift of sexuality” and its long-standing prohibition on artificial birth control as outlined in “Humanae Vitae,” Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical.

In a statement released in at The Catholic University of American in Washington, they rejected calls for the church to change its teaching by another group that issued a statement the same day at the United Nations.

Attendees listen to Catholic scholars release a statement reaffirming Blessed Paul VI's 1968 "Humanae Vitae" encyclical on human sexuality at The Catholic University of America in Washington Sept. 20. The scholars rejected new calls for the church to lift its ban on artificial contraception. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Attendees listen to Catholic scholars release a statement reaffirming Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 “Humanae Vitae” encyclical on human sexuality at The Catholic University of America in Washington Sept. 20. The scholars rejected new calls for the church to lift its ban on artificial contraception. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

“We, the undersigned scholars, affirm that the Catholic Church’s teachings on the gift of sexuality, on marriage and on contraception are true and defensible on many grounds, among them the truths of reason and revelation concerning the dignity of the human person,” they said.

The scholars said the “church’s constant and consistent teaching on human sexuality,” as explained in “Humanae Vitae,” “has been reaffirmed” by every pope since its release, most recently by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), released in April.

Signatories include: Richard Fehring, professor emeritus and director, Marquette University’s Institute for Natural Family Planning; professor Angela Franks, director of theology programs for the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization, St. John’s Seminary in Massachusetts; John Haas, president, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Philadelphia; and George Weigel, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington.

“Scholarly support for the church’s teachings on the gift of sexuality, on marriage and on contraception has burgeoned in recent decades,” they said. “Moreover, institutes and programs supporting that teaching have been established all over the world. Even some secular feminists and secular programs have begun to acknowledge the harms of contraception.”

The other statement, issued at the U.N., was from an ecumenical group of Catholic and other moral theologians, ethicists and economists from around the world, under the auspices of Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, based in England.

“Our goal is to encourage the Catholic hierarchy to reverse their stance against so-called ‘artificial’ contraceptives,” said the Wijngaards group, which claimed “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) is based on faulty reasoning.

“The decision to use modern contraceptives can be taken for a variety of morally worthy motives, and so it can be responsible and ethical,” it said in its statement, “On the Ethics of Using Contraceptives.”

Signatories of the Wijngaards declaration include Father Charles Curran, who in the 1980s was told by the Vatican that he no longer had permission to teach as a Catholic theologian because of his dissenting positions on church teaching about sexual morality. Another signer is Father Peter Phan, who teaches at Georgetown University; his writings on religious relativism, or that many faiths offer valid spiritual paths, came under scrutiny by the Vatican.

The homepage of the institute’s website describes the organization’s mission as “promoting gender equality and shared decision-making in the church.”

The Wijngaards group said it was invited to present its statement at the United Nations Sept. 20. Copies were being made available “to all U.N. departments and development agencies … trying to navigate the relationship between religious belief and women’s health as they work toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” it said.

“We cannot pretend that it is still 1968 or ignore the harm done by the sexual revolution,” said John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University in Washington. Grabowski, who was an expert at the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family, made the comments in a Sept. 20 news release about the scholars’ statement released in Washington.

“Unfortunately, the Wijngaards statement fails to acknowledge the vindication of the teaching of Blessed Paul VI over the last 48 years by the sciences, the social sciences, and its further elaboration by the teaching of St. John Paul II and its support from Pope Francis,” he said.

The scholars’ statement said the Wijngaards declaration “misdirects the conversation from the start by claiming that the argument against “Humanae Vitae’ is based primarily on ‘biological laws.’ ‘Humanae Vitae’ instead focuses, as it should, on the person’s relationship to God and other persons.”

“God is love. … Because God is love — a communion of divine persons — he made men and women in his image: able to reason and to choose freely, with the capacity to love and to be in loving relationships,” the statement said.

“God invites all people to share in his love. … Every person is created to make a gift of self to God and others,” it continued. “The gift of self means living in a way that promotes the good of everyone, especially those with whom one is in close relationship.”

Marriage “was designed by God to enable a man and a woman to live out humanity’s core identity and lovers and givers of life. … Human sexual relations fulfill God’s intent only when they respect the procreative meaning of the sexual act and involve a complete gift of self between married partners.”

Quoting “Humanae Vitae,” the group said: “There is an unbreakable connection between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning … and both are inherent in the marital act. … The teaching that contraception is always against God’s plan for sexuality, marriage and happiness is not based on human law,” the group said.

The statement also said that to live out “God’s design for married love,” husbands and wives need “moral family planning methods,” which are available to them in “the many forms of natural family planning.” Natural methods based on fertility awareness “are fully consistent with the church’s teaching on marital chastity.”

 

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Bishop, other leaders call for peace, unity after knife attacks in St. Cloud

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — One day after a knife-wielding man injured nine people at a shopping mall near St. Cloud, Bishop Donald J. Kettler called for prayers for those impacted by the violence.

“Please join me in praying for the victims of last night’s mall attack, for our first responders & for peace and unity in our community,” the St. Cloud bishop said via his Twitter account Sept. 18.

Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., center, talks with Maryan Ahmed and Fatumo Ukash following a Sept. 18 news conference organized by the local Somali-American community in St. Cloud after a knife-wielding man injured nine people the previous day at a shopping mall. Bishop Donald J. Kettler of St. Cloud called for prayers for those impacted by the violence. (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, The Visitor)

Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., center, talks with Maryan Ahmed and Fatumo Ukash following a Sept. 18 news conference organized by the local Somali-American community in St. Cloud after a knife-wielding man injured nine people the previous day at a shopping mall. Bishop Donald J. Kettler of St. Cloud called for prayers for those impacted by the violence. (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, The Visitor)

A man was fatally shot by an off-duty officer after stabbing nine people at the Crossroads Center mall in Waite Park Sept. 17. He was later identified as Dahir Adan, 22, who had worked as a security guard for one of the stores in the mall, according to news reports. Adan was a member of the local Somali community.

St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said the attacker reportedly made references to Allah during the attack, and the FBI was investigating the incident as a possible terrorist act.

During a Sept. 18 news conference in St. Cloud, several local Somali-American leaders denounced the attack, offered condolences to the victims and their families, and called for ongoing efforts on behalf of peace and unity in the community.

“We condemn what happened in the strongest words we can possibly use,” said Abdul Kulane, a graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville and leader in the Somali community. “We strongly condemn any terroristic action in America or around the world. … We don’t believe in violence.”

Benedictine Sister Michaela Hedican, prioress of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, who attended the news conference, said she felt “profound sadness” when she learned about the Sept. 17 attack at the mall.

“The sisters have been praying and will continue to pray at St. Benedict’s Monastery. We have great hope that somehow we can walk over this bridge together,” said Sister Michaela, a member of the Greater St. Cloud Area Faith Leaders Group, which was formed in 2015 to promote interfaith dialogue and build relationships. Bishop Kettler also is a member.

Local Catholics can help by also turning to prayer “for the wisdom to know what best to say and do and how to offer support,” Sister Michaela said. “And then to reach out, not only to the Somali community, but to support each other and (support) the beliefs we have, including the Gospel mandate of loving our neighbor, no matter who our neighbor is.

“We also need to recognize that none of us want to be judged as to who we are by the action of one person,” she said.

Several speakers at the news conference stressed that Islam does not condone violence and that terrorist groups such as the Islamic State are not representative of Muslims or Somalis.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said many local Somalis and Muslims are concerned about potential backlash in the wake of the attack. The incident is a tragedy for everyone, including Muslims, he said, but it also is an opportunity for people to come together and build a stronger community.

“How we come out of this will define who we are as a community,” added Haji Yusuf, community director for UniteCloud, a grass-roots community-building organization.

Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, also is a member of the Greater St. Cloud Area Faith Leaders Group, whose members include Christians and Muslims. It meets monthly and recently held its second annual summer picnic at Lake George, where members of different faiths shared conversations and a potluck meal.

When Langer heard about the mall attack, “my heart broke,” she said.

“I knew there would be a lot of people who were going to be hurt by this, so it was very sad,” said Langer, who attended the news conference. “We’re at a place in St. Cloud where we need to make a choice: Are we going to be a divided and resentful community? Or are we going to come together, trusting in the goodness of each other? I hope we do the latter, and I believe we can.”

How can Catholics help to build a peaceful and unified community?

“I think we have to take responsibility for the fact that many of us don’t understand or don’t know many people in the Somali community,” Langer told The Visitor, newspaper of the St. Cloud diocese. “We don’t understand their faith well. We don’t understand what they’ve been through. It’s time for us as a community to educate ourselves about who these people are.”

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CRS announces agency veteran as new CEO

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A six-month search for a new president and CEO for one of the largest humanitarian relief agencies in the world ended at its doorstep, with Catholic Relief Services announcing Sept. 16 that it is hiring a veteran employee, the agency’s No. 2, Sean Callahan, as its new president and CEO.

Sean Callahan, the new CEO of Catholic Relief Services, one of the largest humanitarian relief agencies in the world, is seen greeting children in an undated photo in El Salvador.  His new position begins Jan. 1, when he succeeds Carolyn Y. Woo, who ends her five-year term at the end of 2016. (CNS photo/Oscar Leiva, Silverlight for CRS)

Sean Callahan, the new CEO of Catholic Relief Services, one of the largest humanitarian relief agencies in the world, is seen greeting children in an undated photo in El Salvador. His new position begins Jan. 1, when he succeeds Carolyn Y. Woo, who ends her five-year term at the end of 2016. (CNS photo/Oscar Leiva, Silverlight for CRS)

“We looked all across the nation and found that the best person for the job was Sean, already working for us,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, head of the CRS Board Search Committee, in a statement announcing Callahan’s new position, which begins Jan. 1, 2017. He succeeds Carolyn Y. Woo, who ends her five-year term at the end of 2016.

Callahan began his career with CRS 28 years ago and has served as director of Human Resources, regional director for South Asia, head of its Nicaragua program and executive vice president for overseas operations. Four years ago he was appointed as the agency’s chief operating officer.

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the CRS board, said in a statement that all that experience is what makes Callahan eminently qualified for the top spot.

Callahan said mission, not climbing the corporate ladder, is what has motivated him in his almost three decades at CRS, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency based in Baltimore. In his new leadership position, he said he wants to inspire and motivate staff and CRS partners around the world to be united in humanitarian efforts, incorporating different elements of the Catholic Church to help humanity.

That means emphasizing the sanctity of life and how charitable efforts to help those suffering around the world is part of that Christian mission.

“Sacredness of life is key,” Callahan said in a phone interview with Catholic News Service from Montreal. “We need to be aware of the situation of the least among us. We have a responsibility.”

That means teaching others about situations that bring suffering and snuff out lives around the world. It means finding a way, whether by prayer, voting, volunteering or giving financially, to become involved with finding a solution to the hardship of others.

In Pope Francis and the recently canonized St. Teresa of Kolkata, whom Callahan met while working for CRS in Asia, the church has great models and inspiration to meet that mission and understand that Christians have a call to help those in distress, including the poor, refugees and migrants, Callahan said.

As head of CRS, he said he wants to help connect those in the United States to see “brothers and sisters in other parts of the world … connect those who have more with those who have less.”

It also means helping others understand that leaving one’s country is not the preferred option for those who leave their homelands, which is why CRS has programs to help people not emigrate.

“Many of these people, what they want is safety and security,” he said. CRS tries to provide a livelihood, health care, education, but sometimes they still are faced with having to leave their homelands.

“Once they do migrate, it’s our responsibility that they’re safe and protected. … That’s where we have been inspired by the Holy Father” in reaching out, teaching those who may not be comfortable with foreigners, whether migrants or refugees, understand that Jesus was a migrant, he was a refugee, too, Callahan said.

While Americans are rightly proud of their homeland, not all immigrants who are here have chosen to leave what’s familiar to them by choice and they would stay in their home countries if they had had safe and secure places to live, he said. That’s where organizations such as CRS step in to put mechanisms in place that build stronger communities and try to alleviate some of the hardship.

Callahan, 56, has master’s degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts University, and is president of Caritas North America. He also is on the board of trustees for Catholic Charities USA and has served on the Executive Committee and Representative Council of Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations.

When he takes over in January, he will be leading an agency of 5,400 worldwide. In a statement, CRS said its operating expenditures will reach almost $900 million in fiscal year 2016, the highest in its history, rising from $585 million in fiscal year 2013.

 

Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

 

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Washington letter: Anger, distrust with candidates may find voters snubbing presidential ballot

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Campaign 2016 is shaping up to be one where voters are not so much supporting one candidate or another as casting a ballot against a candidate they find intolerable.

Or they may not vote for president at all.

Anger, distrust with candidates may find voters snubbing presidential ballot

In a combination photo, U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is seen Sept. 9 and U.S Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is seen Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder/Mike Segar, Reuters)

In a combination photo, U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is seen Sept. 9 and U.S Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is seen Sept. 14. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder/Mike Segar, Reuters)

Underlying anger and deep-seated distrust of government and the major party candidates are at the root of one of the most tumultuous presidential campaigns in memory.

How well that anger and distrust are addressed in the seven weeks until Election Day will likely determine who occupies the White House come Jan. 20, a panel of political observers said during a Sept. 13 discussion hosted by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

Polling shows that more than half of expected voters say they are voting against Democrat Hilllary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump, Jerry Seib, Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, told the forum. It’s a phenomenon that Seib said he found unprecedented in his years of covering Washington politics.

“Cynicism is so high. It’s the age we live in,” Seib said.

But Seib found it even more notable that a significant number of voters have said they would vote for neither major party nominee, choosing instead to focus on down-ballot races for Congress, state legislatures and local offices.

In key battleground states, the newspaper’s polls have found that 6 percent to 14 percent of voters said they would vote for neither Clinton nor Trump in head-to-head competition.

“(People are saying) ‘I have made a decision that I will not vote for either of them. Not that I do not know or I’m not sure yet. I have decided I will not vote for either candidate.’ These are astonishing things if you think about it,” Seib said.

Emma Green, senior associate editor at The Atlantic magazine, described the tone among voters as one filled with resignation because they are faced with voting for a candidate low on inspiration and excitement.

From where does such cynicism originate?

Political commentator and participant Mark Shields offered an observation: People, particularly blue-collar workers, feel abandoned by the government because they see that only the desires of the well-heeled are being addressed. He blamed Congress for being ineffective, failing to consider the needs of the working class, middle class and poor.

When millions of people who are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession that began in 2007 see money pouring into political campaigns from corporate entities and elite special interests, they realize that their needs and concerns will largely be ignored, Shields said.

Despite good news from the Census Bureau Sept. 13 that median incomes rose 5.2 percent and poverty fell by 1.2 percent in 2015, people are still struggling to recover economically because the value of their homes has not returned to pre-2007 levels and salaries have failed to keep up with inflation over the last 15 years, Shields added.

“People get bitter,” he said.

Melinda Henneberger, visiting fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, suggested the distrust stems from feelings that “the system is rigged,” as Trump and, during the Democratic primary season, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, maintained.

“They feel they have been lied to and want to blow it up,” Henneberger said.

The panelists agreed that Trump and Sanders were able to tap voter anger, cynicism and distrust. Henneberger acknowledged that Trump has made untruthful comments, but that they don’t take his rants literally.

“They like the way it makes them feel when they hear him venting,” she said.

Although Sanders failed to get the Democratic Party’s nomination, he was especially able to tap into the mood of young people and push Clinton to adopt some of the language he used challenging the political status quo, explained Green, who regularly covers millennials, religion and politics.

Green cited the role of social media as important in the election. From being the primary means that young people follow the campaign to being the main forum that extremist groups have promoted bigotry, how messages are shared through social media is expected to play a major part in getting different factions to the polls on Election Day.

Looming among the electorate are religious voters and the panelists said they will be important at the polls, but not solely because of their faith affiliation.

Henneberger, who also is longtime political reporter and editor, said many observers have been surprised how strongly evangelical Christians have lined up behind Trump, who has been accused of bigotry and of carrying out shadowy business deals over the years.

“Evangelical support for Donald Trump doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, until you start to wonder well, gosh, maybe evangelical voters are getting to be like Catholic voters have been for some time in that they are indistinguishable from other voters they are similar to in other ways,” Henneberger told the audience.

She told Catholic News Service that evangelicals, like Catholics, are more difficult to segregate from other voters when demographics such as economics, education and locale are considered.

“You really can’t look at Trump’s positions and argue that he’s gotten the evangelical vote because of his religious beliefs or even his being concert with them on issues that you think of as faith-based,” Henneberger said.

Despite the upheavals in the campaign, Seib expressed hope that a peaceful transfer of administrations will occur and American democracy will continue uninterrupted.

“I think it’s possible to get too carried away with the pessimism here. In the end there’s a remarkable system in this country, and somehow, through the most remarkably obtuse way, it tends to produce. I think there’s plenty of reason to think it can do that now,” he said.

“So let’s not be woefully discouraged here as I think basically this bizarre system we have tends to right itself and the values tend to persevere somehow,” he continued. “I cannot explain it and I cannot explain how it will be true this year. But I have to believe that it’s true.”

 

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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