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Pope names Wichita bishop and auxiliary for Miami – updated


Pope Francis has appointed the vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., to be bishop of Wichita, Kan., and also named a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami.

In Kansas, Msgr. Carl A. Kemme, 53, vicar general and moderator of the curia in Springfield, will succeed Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, who was named to head the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, in April 2013.

Miami’s newly named auxiliary is Msgr. Peter Baldacchino, also 53, who since 1999 has been chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a juridical mission of the New Jersey archdiocese.

The appointments were announced Feb. 20 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate Kemme’s episcopal ordination and installation as the 11th bishop of Wichita is scheduled for May 1. Bishop-designate Baldacchino’s episcopal ordination will take place in March, but the date has not yet been announced.

Wichita’s newly named bishop is a native of Illinois. He grew up on a small family farm in rural Shumway, Ill. His family attended of Annunciation Church there and his parents are still members of the parish. Bishop-designate Baldacchino was born in Malta; he holds dual citizenship in his home country and the United States.

Msgr. Robert E. Hemberger, Wichita’s diocesan administrator, said Bishop-designate Kemme will find in his new diocese “a people who are resourceful and faith-filled … who know about the great love of God for each and all human beings. … who are ready to roll up their sleeves and make a difference in this part of the world.”

“He will find a people who will welcome and work, who will pray and hope, who will create beauty and community,” added the priest in a statement introducing Bishop-designate Kemme at a morning news conference.

“Pope Francis has reached into the heart of Illinois, to the diocese of Springfield, to call forth a pastor. God has heard our prayers for a wise and loving bishop to guide us in building up the body of Christ and the reign of God,” said Msgr. Hemberger.

Bishop-designate Kemme was ordained a priest for the Springfield Diocese in 1986, and named a monsignor in 2002. He has been parochial vicar, pastor or administrator at a number of parishes. He has had two tenures as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the diocese, from 2002 to 2009, then from 2010 to the present.

In between those assignments, he was pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Sherman, Ill., and from 2009 to 2010 served as administrator of the diocese, after then-Bishop George J. Lucas was named archbishop of Omaha, Neb., and before Springfield’s current bishop, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, was installed.

Bishop-designate Kemme, the son of Donald and Marita Kemme, has four brothers and one sister and. He studied at the Springfield’s diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Glennon College in St. Louis and Kenrick Seminary, also in St. Louis.

“As time unfolds, we’ll get to know each other very well, perhaps and hopefully for me to know you by name,” said Bishop-designate Kemme in a statement at the Wichita news conference. “I look forward to that discovery and I hope you do as well.

“For today, it is enough to acknowledge that now we are in this together, writing together the next chapter, a glorious, hope filled and exciting chapter in the history of the Diocese of Wichita,” he continued. “This is the joy of the Gospel about which Pope Francis has recently written to the church. It is your joy and mine to follow the Lord together, as brothers and sisters and to leave no one behind. … The fact that our journeys have now intersected by God’s providence and from now on we will journey together makes me very happy, very happy indeed.”

Bishop Paprocki said in a statement Bishop-designate Kemme “is a man of deep faith and love for the Lord and the people of God. We will all be sorry to see him leave our diocese, but we congratulate him on his appointment and rejoice that he will share his abundant abilities with the wider church.”

The Wichita Diocese covers more than 20,000 square miles. Catholics number about 113,000 out of a total population of close to 1 million.

In Miami, Bishop-designate Baldacchino will assist Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, who welcomed the appointment of an auxiliary bishop, the first for the archdiocese in about three years.

Peter Baldacchino was born Dec. 5, 1960, in Sliema, Malta, and holds citizenship in both the United States and Malta. He studied for the priesthood at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, 1990-1996, and was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1996. He was named a monsignor in 2009.

After his priestly ordination, he was parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, N.J., for three years. Then in 1999 he was named chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. By the end of 1998 the chain of islands, about 90 miles north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, had been put under the jurisdiction of the Newark Archdiocese at the request of the Vatican.

Since 2002, Bishop-designate Baldacchino also has been pastor of Our Lady of Providence Church on Providenciales Island.

He holds a diploma in sciences from the University of Malta; electrical installation licenses from Umberto Calosso Trade School, Malta; a bachelor of arts from Thomas A. Edison State College in Trenton, N.J., and a master’s of divinity degree in pastoral ministry from the School of Theology at Seton Hall University in Orange, N.J.

He speaks English, Italian, Maltese, Spanish and Creole.

The Miami Archdiocese, which covers three counties in South Florida, has a Catholic population of more than 1.3 million out of a total population of 4.4 million. Mass is celebrated in 17 languages; there are 108 churches and missions and 57 schools.



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Milwaukee archdiocese files reorganization plan with bankruptcy court


MILWAUKEE — Attorneys for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee filed the archdiocese’s reorganization plan Feb. 12, with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

In a special edition of his weekly communique, “Love One Another,” which is sent to clergy, parish staffs and other church leaders throughout the archdiocese, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki called the plan “the next major step toward ending the bankruptcy and returning our focus to the primary mission of the church; proclaiming the Gospel, worshipping more fully, and serving our sisters and brothers in need.”

The plan, which must be approved by Judge Susan V. Kelley, demonstrates a commitment by the archdiocese, according to the archbishop, to abuse survivors and to serving the people of God in southeastern Wisconsin.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in January 2011.

“It’s time for us to get back to what the church is supposed to be doing. It’s time for the archdiocese to return its focus to its ministry. Outreach to and the support of abuse survivors will always be part of that ministry,” he wrote.

As he has regularly stated throughout his more than four years as archbishop, Archbishop Listecki apologized to abuse survivors, renewed his invitation to meet personally with them and reiterated the archdiocese’s “obligation to love and care for those who were harmed.”

The plan includes a Lifetime Therapy Fund — something which he insisted, since the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 4, 2011, had to be a part of the plan for as long as abuse survivors need it.

The archbishop noted that abuse survivors had told him “this is not about the money and I believe them.”

He continued, “No amount of money could ever be enough to restore what was taken from them. People were robbed of a part of their lives and I understand that nothing we do today can change that; nonetheless, I want to do the best I can to help abuse survivors.”

Archbishop Listecki wrote that the plan also gives remaining “unrestricted archdiocesan assets” to survivors of abuse by diocesan priests. In addition, the plan pays the cost of the bankruptcy, mostly accounting and legal fees, the latter, about which he wrote, have “depleted archdiocesan resources.”

He continued, “What many people do not realize is that the archdiocese must pay the lawyers on both sides. So every decision the creditors’ committee made to pursue assets like parish investments, school funds or other charitable trusts that didn’t belong to the archdiocese, depleted our resources even further.”

The archbishop noted that one archdiocesan asset was its insurance policies, and that “in the interest of abuse survivors” it had “aggressively pursued action against our insurance companies.” A settlement with Lloyd’s of London will provide “millions of dollars for the plan,” while the archdiocese will continue litigation against other insurers.

Archbishop Listecki wrote that to ensure the plan will work financially, the archdiocese is selling what few properties it owns and converting them to cash by using them as collateral in securing a loan from the Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust.

“Instead of depending upon an unstable real estate market, we have been able to secure more for these properties by using them as collateral for this loan,” he wrote. “This puts an end to any speculation about the money that was always intended for cemetery perpetual care and avoids the expense of a lengthy court appeal, which could take another year or more.

“Since no bank would ever lend the archdiocese the amount of money needed to pay for the plan, this loan makes sense.”

Even with insurance money and the loan, the archdiocese expects to come out of the Chapter 11 reorganization with a debt of $7 million, according to the archbishop, because of the expenses for which it is responsible.

“The archdiocese has historically operated on a balanced budget, so the burden of paying off this debt will certainly be part of our penance,” he wrote. “I wish we wouldn’t have had to spend the past three years and millions of dollars on attorneys’ fees to get to this point, but now we have a plan that moves us forward.”

Archbishop Listecki expressed optimism about life in the post-bankruptcy archdiocese.

“I feel confident about the future of the church in southeastern Wisconsin. Confident because of the faith we share in Jesus Christ. Confident that the good work of the church conquers the evil of clergy sexual abuse,” he wrote. “I am confident, mainly because of you, the faithful Catholics in parishes across this archdiocese, who live your faith every day.”

The archbishop encouraged Catholics not to forget the past, but to look “forward to a future guided by the Holy Spirit.”

“Because of the lessons we’ve learned, we will be a stronger, better church as we continue to proclaim the Gospel, and continue our works of education, service and charity,” he concluded.

by Brian T. Olszewski

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Brooklyn priest named bishop of Albany diocese


WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., and named Msgr. Edward B. Scharfenberger, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., to succeed him.

The pope also appointed Msgr. Andrzej J. Zglejszewski as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., where he is currently co-chancellor and director of the Office of Worship.

The appointments and Bishop Hubbard’s resignation were announced Feb. 11 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Hubbard is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. He was named to head the Albany diocese in 1977, when he was 38. At that time, he was the youngest Catholic bishop in the nation.

Bishop-designate Scharfenberger’s episcopal ordination and installation is scheduled for April 10 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. Bishop-designate Zglejszewski’s episcopal ordination will be March 25 at the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre.

Bishop Hubbard called it a privilege to have served so many years as head of the Albany diocese, with its cities, towns, villages, suburban and rural communities spread over 10,000 square miles, “stretching from the Pennsylvania border to the Vermont border; from the Massachusetts state line to the Utica City line; from the northern Catskills to the southern Adirondacks.”

“It is an area blessed with not only magnificent physical beauty but most important with the rich and vibrant spiritual splendor of its 350,000 priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful,” the bishop said in a statement.

He said all in the diocese greeted Bishop-designate Scharfenberger, 65, “with warmth, hospitality and a sincere desire to be attentive and responsive to his leadership as our shepherd.”

In his statement, the bishop-designate said he was “touched by the warm welcome of Bishop Hubbard.”

“My heart is full of gratitude to God for my loving family, especially my 93-year-old parents, who were generous enough to welcome me, my two brothers and two sisters into this world,” Bishop-designate Scharfenberger said. “They taught us how to pray, to trust God and to know Jesus as our friend. Their continuous example shows us that the essence of love is sacrifice.’

Ordained for the Brooklyn diocese in 1973, he has been vicar for strategic planning from the diocese since 2009. He also has been vicar for the Queens area of Brooklyn diocese since last year. He has been a pastor, judicial vicar for the diocesan tribunal and promoter of justice for the tribunal.

Born in Brooklyn May 29, 1948, Bishop-designate Scharfenberger studied for the priesthood in Rome, earning a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical North American College in Rome and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Lateran University’s Accademia Alfonsiana, also in Rome.

He also holds a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America in Washington and a law degree from Fordham University in New York. He was named a monsignor in 1995.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said Bishop-designate Scharfenberger has been a close collaborator and friend and is “a good priest … primarily concerned about people and is untiring in finding new ways to proclaim the message of redemption which is at the heart of the Gospel.”

In the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Bishop William F. Murphy said he was grateful to Pope Francis “for giving our diocese this good and holy priest of many talents to assist me in the pastoral care of the 1.5 million Catholics of our diocese.”

“I know the priests, deacons, liturgical ministers and all the people of God will welcome this appointment from our Holy Father as I have, with gratitude to God and with great joy that … we are blessed with a bishop who will serve this church as a bishop just as he has served it so well as a priest,” Bishop Murphy added.

Bishop-designate Zglejszewski, 52, who was born in Poland and ordained a priest for Rockville Centre in 1990, said he was surprised and humbled by Pope Francis’ appointment, but added, “I turn all my emotions and wonders into a song of gratitude.”

“This appointment not only shows his great concern for the church on Long Island, but also it is a concrete way of reaching out to all the faithful in the Diocese of Rockville Centre,” he said in a statement. “The Holy Father recognizes the depth and enthusiasm of spiritual life coming together with an amazing exchange of the diversities of our cultures.”

Born Dec. 18, 1961, in Bialystok, Poland, he holds a master of arts degree from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Douglaston, N.Y., and pursued advanced studies in theology at Catholic University and Fordham.

After his priestly ordination he had several assignments as an associate pastor. He has been director of the diocesan worship office since 2007. He also has been adjunct professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary. He was named a monsignor in 2010.


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Cardinal O’Brien says ‘hold on to your seats,’ Pope Francis wants to ‘stir things up’


Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — U.S. Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien doesn’t know what will come out of the Synod on the Family set for October, but the former archbishop of Baltimore believes it will be significant.

“Hold onto your seats,” Cardinal O’Brien told a gathering of seminarians and faculty at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. “I think Pope Francis wants to stir things up and allow people to raise questions. I don’t think we’re going to see a change in doctrine, but we will see a change in tone, and we might see some disciplinary modifications.”

Those modifications might include adjustments in annulment procedures, Cardinal O’Brien said.

“I think most bishops are very concerned that they have more say in annulments in a responsible way,” he said Jan. 27.

Cardinal O’Brien’s comments were part of a wide-ranging address that touched on the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, the election of Pope Francis and a look at how Pope Francis has governed the church in his first year.

Cardinal O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, was present when Pope Benedict announced he was stepping down in 2013. The cardinal was also part of the conclave that elected the new pope.

As head of the Buenos Aires archdiocese, the future Pope Francis dealt as an outsider with the curia that helps govern the church, Cardinal O’Brien said, an experience that helped shape how he would interact with the curia when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope.

“He’s seen its strengths and its weaknesses,” Cardinal O’Brien said, noting that the pope’s establishment of an eight-member council of cardinals from around the world shows that the pope believes he needs advisers both within and outside the curia.

The principal job of the council of cardinals, Cardinal O’Brien said, is to “completely rewrite the central administration of the Catholic Church.” The cardinal said the curia will somehow have to relate to the new council of cardinals.

“I think a year from now, we’ll hardly know what the structure was, there will be so many different things that will have taken place,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “Maybe the heads of some conferences of bishops will be involved. I don’t know. But we will know by the end of February because the group of eight will meet again and come up with formal recommendations.”

Cardinal O’Brien highlighted several themes of Pope Francis’ young papacy, among them the importance of expanding the pope’s circle of advisers, subsidiarity, solidarity with the poor, evangelizing at the periphery of the culture and acting as a missionary church.

The cardinal cited the pope’s interview with an Italian atheist magazine editor and the pope’s strong focus on mercy as examples of his willingness to reach out to others. The pope has opened up discussions with those who feel alienated from the church, Cardinal O’Brien said.

The pope is modeling an example of being prepared to go anywhere and share the faith with anyone, Cardinal O’Brien said.

Inspired by the pope’s focus on the poor, Cardinal O’Brien said he has become more conscious of how many times the Old and New Testaments make references to the poor. It reminds him to question himself and think about what the readings mean in light of what the pope is asking people to do in reaching the poor.

Noting that Pope Francis often compares the church to a mother, the cardinal said a mother never deserts her children.

“She’s always available to listen and always to extend mercy,” he said.

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Va. bishops to defend voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage


Catholic News Service

ARLINGTON, Va. — Virginia Catholic bishops said they are disappointed that Attorney General Mark Herring will not defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” in upcoming lawsuits at federal district courts.

The Virginia Catholic Conference, the bishops’ public policy arm, has encouraged constituents to call Herring’s office.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo issued a joint statement vowing to continue their defense of traditional marriage shortly after the attorney general announced Jan. 23 that he would side with plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging the Virginia Constitution brought by same-sex couples.

In 2006, Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The ballot initiative passed 57 percent to 43 percent.

“No politician should be able to reverse the people’s decision,” Bishops Loverde and DiLorenzo said in their joint statement. “We call on the attorney general to do the job he was elected to perform, which is to defend the state laws he agrees with, as well as those state laws with which he personally disagrees.”

Oral arguments were scheduled to begin Jan. 30 in one of the lawsuits, Bostic v. Rainey. The plaintiffs argue that the ban stigmatizes gay men and lesbians because it denies them the same definition of marriage that opposite-sex couples have.

As attorney general, Herring was obligated to represent the state on the defendant’s behalf.

Instead, he will side with the plaintiffs, saying that the amendment was unconstitutional because “marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians, and the ban unlawfully discriminates on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender.”

Herring’s decision drew divided responses. Proponents of striking down the ban applauded Herring while others expressed outrage, comparing the decision to forfeiting his oath to uphold Virginia’s constitution.

Siding with the plaintiffs has ethical implications, said Robert Destro, director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law and Religion at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington.

“If he can’t represent the commonwealth because he has a conflict of interest, he should withdraw from the case,” he said. “What he is doing is ensuring that the state loses. This is going to cost the state of Virginia a fortune.”

Even if Herring does not represent Virginia in the courts, the state is still entitled to effective representation, Destro said. A bipartisan group of 32 delegates asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe for a special counsel to defend the state in court.

“For Mr. Herring to choose to leave Virginians without a voice in court to defend the voter-approved marriage amendment is appalling,” said Delegate Bob Marshall in a Jan. 24 news release. “Apparently it is unconstitutional for Virginia’s citizens to disagree with Mr. Herring.”

The governor declined to appoint a special counsel, according to a Jan. 27 Washington Post article.

In a letter to the delegates, McAuliffe said in the current court case, the ban “is being vigorously and appropriately defended” by the offices of court clerk in Norfolk and in Prince William County.

Herring’s announcement comes soon after federal judges struck down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma, and months after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage between one man and one woman.

In a Jan. 16 blog, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said that recent challenges to state laws in federal courts have made it clear that “the marriage debate we are having in this country is not about access to the right of marriage, but the very meaning of marriage.”

The Virginia Catholic Conference sent an e-alert Jan. 27 asking constituents to call, or email Herring to voice their opinions over his refusal to defend the state’s marriage laws.

“This is the will of the people, and one elected official should not be able to reverse the people’s decision,” said Jeff Caruso, the conference’s director.

Caruso said the Catholic conference was considering filing amicus briefs for the two federal court lawsuits that challenge Virginia’s marriage law. He added that the agency will oppose legislative attempts to redefine marriage in the constitution.

Reaction to Herring’s decision included a column written in Spanish for the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper, by Father Jose E. Hoyos, director of the diocese’s Spanish Apostolate.

The priest encouraged all baptized Catholics to defend the sacrament of marriage. In it, he quoted Pope Francis saying that this union is “a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh and are enabled to give birth to a new life.”

The Virginia bishops have long supported the marriage amendment, issuing a pastoral letter prior to the 2006 elections where they explained church teachings on marriage, calling it “the building block of the family and society.”

Negro is a staff writer at the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.


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Court continues injunction protecting Little Sisters from HHS mandate – updated


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Jan. 24 issued a three-sentence order affirming, for the time being, an injunction blocking enforcement against the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Christian Brothers benefits organization of a mandate to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance.

The order released late in the afternoon affirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Dec. 31 order in the case. It temporarily blocks the federal government from requiring the Denver-based sisters and their co-plaintiffs at Christian Brothers Services from having to meet that requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

The attorney for the Little Sisters and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the order.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., speaking in his capacity as president of the USCCB, said in a statement released Jan. 25 that the bishops “welcome the court’s protection of ministries like the Little Sisters, whose vital work is at the heart of what it means to be Catholic.”

The Supreme Court’s order said: “If the employer applicants inform the secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are nonprofit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.”

The requirement to provide coverage for contraceptives in employee health insurance does have an accommodation, or waiver, the government says would keep certain religious organizations from having to comply with the mandate.

A statement from Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund, which represents the Little Sisters, said they are “delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters.”

The statement said the order means the sisters and the other organizations whose benefits are managed by Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Benefits Trust “must simply inform HHS of their religious identity and objections.”

The statement added that the suit is a class-action case on behalf of more than 400 Catholic organizations whose benefits are managed by the Christian Brothers.

The Little Sisters and Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Benefits Trust, which manages the religious order’s benefits, object to being required to justify to the government that they should be entitled to an exemption from the mandate. They argue that filling out the paperwork for a waiver that would instruct a third party to provide the contraceptive coverage amounts to them being part of the mechanism for providing abortion and other morally objectionable types of coverage.

“To meet the condition for injunction pending appeal, applicants need not use the form prescribed by the government and need not send copies to third-party administrators,” the order said.

The court’s order specified that the injunction “should not be construed as an expression of the court’s views on the merits” of the religious groups’ legal claims.



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Kentucky bishop named to Harrisburg


Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington, Ky., has been named to head the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., and the vicar general of the Diocese of Fresno, Calif., has been named auxiliary bishop of Sacramento, Calif., the first for the diocese.

Pope Francis made the appointments Jan. 24. They were announced in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Gainer, 66, was ordained as bishop of Lexington Feb. 22, 2003. He is a native of Pottsville, Pa., in the Diocese of Allentown, and served there as a parish priest, campus minister and judicial vicar until his appointment as the second bishop of Lexington.

He succeeds Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, who died May 2, 2013, and will be installed March 19.

Msgr. Myron J. Cotta, 60, will become the first auxiliary bishop of the Sacramento diocese. He is a native of Dos Palos, Calif., in the Fresno Diocese, and has been a priest since 1987.

In Fresno he has served in several parishes, on assorted diocesan boards and in posts including moderator of the curia, vicar for clergy, director of continuing formation of the clergy, supervisor of the safe environment program and director of the Propagation of the Faith.



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Youths must help world see God has plan for ‘each life,’ priest says


WASHINGTON — Braving near-record low temperatures and Arctic-type wind chills, thousands of young people from across the Archdiocese of Washington and the United States gathered in Washington for a rally and Mass prior to the annual Jan. 22 March for Life.

A young man receives Communion during a pro-life youth Mass at the DC Armory in Washington Jan. 22. More than 6,000 young people gathered at the arena to rally and pray before taking part in the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

“We can help the world understand that no one is an accident, all have a purpose and are loved because each person has the face of Jesus Christ,” Father Michael Paris, a parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Rockville, Md., told more than 10,000 youth who gathered for the Archdiocese of Washington’s Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington.

The priest was the homilist at the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. Concelebrants included several bishops, including Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley, and more than 160 priests.

“I believe God wants to use us to end abortion. … By helping the world see that God has a plan for each life, that everyone is loved by God,” Father Paris said. “If people believed that, they would never think that killing a child could be an option. … Abortion cannot stand if each person believes this.”

The Mass and Rally for Life is traditionally held on the morning of the annual March for Life, which this year marks the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States.

The same day the archdiocese also sponsored an additional Youth Rally and Mass for Life that drew thousands of mostly out-of-town marchers to the Stadium Armory in Washington. Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout was the main celebrant of that Mass.

Cardinal Wuerl, in speaking with young people at the Verizon Center before the Mass, remarked: “Considering its freezing outside, the thousands of youth here (at the rally and Mass) shows how much value they place on human life.”

“The basis of all respect is recognizing the right to life,” he said. “The young people here are the voices of life. They are the future.”

Among the “voices of life” at the rally and Mass was William Bolin, a member of St. Andrew Apostle Parish in Silver Spring, Md. He said the frigid temperatures would not deter young people who defend life.

“Snow or no snow, no matter what, we are pro-life, and it is crucial to show the world that youth are pro-life,” he said. “Despite all the obstacles, we will be here.”

The inclement weather did not keep a group of young pro-lifers from St. Martin of Tours Parish in Gaithersburg, Md., from attending the event.

“Because of the weather, our buses were canceled and we had to be creative to get here,” said Theresa Mondoa, a youth leader from the parish. “We carpooled because the kids are very committed to this and look forward to this day when they stand up for life.”

During his homily, Father Paris encouraged young people to be proud to “protect life (and) … stand up for our unborn brothers and sisters.”

“He (God) loves each unborn child and has a plan for their life, no matter how hard a situation they might come from.,” the priest said. “But before we can help anyone else believe this, we have to know this ourselves.”

Father Paris told youth not to be discouraged in sharing the pro-life message with others.

“How can we help the world around us understand? We are so young, so weak, the culture of death is so strong,” he said. “Say not, ‘I am too young.’ … The Holy Spirit will give us everything we need to make this happen.”

Cardinal Wuerl said the rally and Mass and participation in the March for Life offer ways “to renew our commitment to recognize and value the dignity of each human life. We recognize the warmth of your commitment in contrast to what is going on outside.”

Also during the Mass, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, read a message of support to the pro-lifers from Pope Francis. He said the pope was “most grateful to all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the right to life.” Participants at the Verizon Center rally offered Pope Francis a thunderous standing ovation.

Father William Byrne, pastor of St. Peter Parish on Capitol Hill and the Archdiocese of Washington’ secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns, opened the rally with a prayer.

“We come here to praise and worship God and to defend life,” he said. “Today is dedicated to the dignity of the human person.”

Young people in attendance said they were committed to seeing an end to abortion.

“I am motivated to see this terrible thing called abortion stopped,” said Kaycie Willard, a junior at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Md., and a member of St. Joseph Parish in Beltsville, Md.

Susan Lea, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Derwood, Md., said that young people have an important role to play in defending life.

“This is the generation that is going to change the culture of death,” she told the Catholic Standard, Washington’s archdiocesan newspaper. “The message that everybody has a right to life is a message that young people will pass on to their peers.”

More than 400 people from the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., made a 24-hour bus journey through snow and ice to attend the youth rally, Mass and March for Life.

“Despite the chill, we have pledged to stand for life,” said Cheryl Greer, a member of the group. “This is our pilgrimage, and we offer it as penance, a prayer to end abortion.”

Cleopatre Thelus and Amande Cholodewitsch, college students from Cleveland, traveled to Washington by themselves. “I just wanted to be with my fellow Catholics and stand for life,” Thelus said.

Cholodewitsch noted that this was her fourth year attending the rally and Mass.

“I’m glad that it’s cold and there is snow – that is more suffering we can offer up to end abortion,” she said. “I keep coming back because I’m not going until Roe vs. Wade is gone.”

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‘No sacrifice too great’ for pro-life cause, says March leader


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The polar vortex couldn’t chill the ardor of thousands of participants who demonstrated their determination to continue speaking out against abortion at the annual March for Life and rally Jan. 22 in Washington.

Temperatures went briefly into double digits but hovered around 8 degrees.

Youth from St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago drum and sing on Pennsylvania Avenue as they make their way toward the Supreme Court building during the March for Life in Washington Jan. 22. Bitter cold and snow did not stop tens of thousands of people from marching against abortion on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

At the rally, speakers highlighted the tenacious determination of the crowd, dressed in coats, scarves, hats and gloves, huddled together on the snow-covered National Mall. They likened the crowd’s bravery to the firm resolve they have shown in their efforts to change abortion laws and promote a culture of life in the U.S.

The rally began at noon, prior to the crowd’s march to the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and it had a different feel this year, not simply because of the cold but in the variety of speakers.

Only three members of Congress addressed the crowd, instead of several, although a handful stood on the mall’s stage. No Catholic leaders addressed the crowd either, but Catholic bishops joined Orthodox leaders for the rally’s opening prayer given by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios.

Among the Catholic prelates spotted on the stage were Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, chairman of the bishops’ pro-life committee; Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl and Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Washington; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore; and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla.

Under a blue and sunny sky, Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher attempted to warm up the crowd while playing a guitar with fingerless gloves. “We’re all really cold,” he acknowledged, adding that the reason they had gathered was to “demonstrate to the world how much we need God.”

Patrick Kelly, chairman of the March for Life, told the crowd filled with young people that they were “freezing for the best cause in the world.” Jeanne Monahan, March for Life president, thanked the crowd for “braving the extreme elements today.”

“No sacrifice is too great for this cause,” she added.

A few times during the hourlong rally, she also advised participants suffering in the cold to visit one of the first-aid warming tents.

Kelly and Monahan stressed a new aspect of this year’s march: tweeting about it with the hashtag #marchforlife or #whywemarch. Marchers cheered as Monahan read a tweet from Pope Francis: “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”She urged the crowd to retweet his message.

The theme of this year’s march was “Adoption: A Noble Decision.”

“When a woman makes a choice to be a birth mother, she embraces motherhood in its most heroic sense,” said Monahan, who also offered support for women who have not chosen life in the past. “For any woman who has had an abortion, you have to know there is hope and healing.”

In his remarks, Kelly noted that the March for Life has a new staff, logo and website and also aims to have a vital social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The goal, he said, is not just for participants to be here once a year but to be in touch with one another “365 days a year to build culture of life in America.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said the marchers’ endurance not only gives “voice to the cause of protecting life” but also shows that they are the “strongest weapon” of the pro-life movement. He said he was confident pro-lifers would win the culture war, because the right to life “is a moral truth written at the hands of our Creator.”

Last year, the House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and Cantor cited it as an example of changing public opinion on abortion. He exhorted the rally-goers to continue the battle. “We cannot allow the opponents of life to weaken the moral fabric of this country.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., criticized President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act “for its insurance plans that include abortion,” but he also stressed that “the pro-life movement is alive and well and making serious, significant and sustained progress.”

“In the last three years alone, a record 200 pro-life laws have been enacted in the states,” he noted. “By the grace of God, and because of you, your prayers and hard work — we are winning.”

He also echoed a theme of the day, telling youths in the crowd: “Never quit or grow discouraged, your generation will end abortion.”

The Rev. James Dobson, an evangelical Christian leader and founder of Focus on the Family, said, “Young people, you are the future of the pro-life movement. We will win this fight.”

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo., encouraged leaders to support alternatives to abortion. “Or society must stop upholding abortion and start encouraging adoption.”

That message resonated with Nicole Peck, regional coordinator of Silent No More.

Speaking about her abortion, Peck said, “They took my money, my baby, and my self-respect.” She even lost her opportunity to experience childbirth: “I would never conceive another child.”

Nicole and her husband later adopted two children. “Their mothers are our heroes.”

Many of the freezing marchers had traveled for days to get to Washington.

Jennifer Camilleri, a freshman at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio, came with hundreds of students from her university. She said that she believed that the Holy Spirit was working through people to encourage them to support life.

Monica Stephens, a 17-year-old student from Grinnell, Kan., in the Salina Diocese, came with her parish ministry group. When asked why she came, Stephens told Catholic News Service: “You have to stand up to help the babies. Apparently, it won’t happen by itself.”

Katie Friess, a recent college graduate from Hoxie, Kan., in the same diocese, said that it is “really important to be here because this is our chance to show the world we are pro-life.”

Jennifer Grant, a senior at Georgia Tech, said that “it is important for youth to be here to show that this matters to us, despite snow and freezing conditions.”

Grant and her classmates drove for 12 hours to attend the march. They dressed as pro-life superheroes, donning yellow tutus and hats.

Katie Talalas also contributed to this story.




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Cardinal O’Malley says ‘choice,’ ‘reproduction rights’ rhetoric hides brutality of abortion


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Supporters of legal abortion are like the emperor from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

Young people pray during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21.The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation.

The “vain and proud king” gullibly believed the swindlers who “told the king that those who could not see the (‘magic’) cloth were stupid and unfit for office,” said Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“The king was quite deceived and paraded through the street of his capital to receive the ovations of his people. The crowds lined the streets and applauded when the king passed by. The crowd shouted compliments and congratulated the king on his magnificent clothing. Suddenly a little child shouted, ‘But he has nothing on at all,’” Cardinal O’Malley said.

“’The king’s new clothes’ today are called reproduction rights, termination of pregnancy, choice, and many other subterfuges that disguise the reality and the brutality that is abortion,” he added. “The voice of the church is like the child who declares before the world that the new clothes are a lie, a humbug, a deception. The church with the candor of a child must call out the uncomfortable truth. Abortion is wrong. Thou shall not kill.”

Cardinal O’Malley made his remarks in the homily of the Jan. 21 Mass opening the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal said he has been to every vigil since they started 35 years ago.

“When the value of life is compromised or diminished, all life is at risk,” he said. “Human rights, without the right to life, are the king’s new clothes; it’s a fraud, an exercise in self-deception.”

Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), “laments the fact that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “The good news is that God never gives up on us. He never tires of loving us. He never tires of forgiving us, never tires of giving us another chance. The pro-life movement needs to be the merciful face of God to women facing a difficult pregnancy. Being judgmental or condemnatory is not part of the gospel of life.”

Pregnant women considering an abortion feel “overwhelmed, alone, afraid, confused,” he added. Referencing the Gospel reading of the Mass, the cardinal added, “We must never allow that woman to perceive the pro-life movement as a bunch of angry self-righteous Pharisees with stones in their hands, looking down on her and judging her. We want the woman to experience the merciful love of Christ.”

Shrine staff had the task of clearing snow from sidewalks and roadways, not to mention the dozens of icy steps leading to the upper church where the Mass was celebrated.

While organizers have come to expect 10,000 each year for the National Prayer Vigil for Life, the numbers may have been down somewhat. Buses weren’t parked along streets leading to the shrine as they customarily have. Looking from the shrine’s choir loft, the side aisles did not seem as crammed with people as they typically do, and the occasional pew had room for one person, although it may have been taken up by coats or backpacks.

Bad weather in the Midwest and East, snow followed by diving temperatures, may have kept some away. It kept at least two prelates away — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, where there was a record high snowfall of more than 13 inches for Jan. 21. Archbishop Chaput had been scheduled to be the main celebrant and homilist at the Jan. 22 Mass closing the vigil.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington that had scheduled buses to take students to March for Life activities in Washington, including the morning Mass Youth Rally at the Verizon Center, also canceled their trips due to the snowstorm.

Those who did make it to Washington had an easier time traffic-wise as the capital and its surrounding suburbs were virtually shut down for the day, with governments and schools closed in anticipation of snow, which ranged from 3 to 9 nine inches depending on the location.

One young woman who said she was from Miami had but a modest jacket, thin cotton gloves and no hat. She said she hoped her group would stop by a drugstore before hunkering down in a Baltimore church to buy some hand-warming packets.


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