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Retired Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn dies

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DOUGLASTON, N.Y. — Retired Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, who headed the diocese from 1990 until his retirement in 2003, died early May 15 at the Immaculate Conception Center’s Bishop Mugavero Residence in Douglaston in the borough of Queens. He was 89.

Funeral arrangements were not yet available.

Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., applauds as he shares a laugh with President George H. Bush in 1992. Bishop Daily, who retired in 2003, died May 15 at Immaculate Conception Center's Bishop Mugavero Residence in the Queens borough of New York City. (CNS photo/Ed Wilkinson, The Tablet)

Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., applauds as he shares a laugh with President George H. Bush in 1992. Bishop Daily, who retired in 2003, died May 15 at Immaculate Conception Center’s Bishop Mugavero Residence in the Queens borough of New York City. (CNS photo/Ed Wilkinson, The Tablet)

“Bishop Daily was a man who personified the Second Vatican Council’s call for a preferential option for the poor,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said in a statement. “He ministered to indigenous people amidst poverty in Peru, women in crisis pregnancies, as well as new and often poor immigrants living in Brooklyn.

“He never acted out of malice or to further his own self-interest. At heart he was a missionary. I suspect he wished he could have remained in the missions his entire life,” Bishop DiMarzio added.

Bishop Daily was installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1990 and served during a time of racial tension and financial hardship. In his later years, Bishop Daily suffered declining health.

As a young priest, then-Father Daily served the indigenous people of Lima, Peru, for five years. Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1952 by Cardinal Richard Cushing, he joined the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle in 1960 and moved to the Minatambo area of Lima. He often referred to his time there, ministering to the poor, as the happiest of his life.

Founded in 1958 by Cardinal Cushing, the missionary society is an international organization of diocesan missionary priests who volunteer a minimum of five years of their priestly lives to service in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. It was established by the cardinal in response to St. John XXIII’s call for members of the Catholic Church in economically favored nations to assist their fellow Catholics in Latin America.

Thomas Vose Daily was born Sept. 23, 1927, to Mary McBride Vose and John F. Daily, in Belmont, Massachusetts.

His graduated from Boston College, and after his studies at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., he was ordained by Cardinal Cushing at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Following ordination, he was assigned as curate for St. Ann’s Church in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy, Massachusetts. He remained in that post through the rest of the 1950s.

After returning to Boston after his time as a missionary, he was assigned again to St. Ann’s, where he served as assistant pastor until 1971. Father Daily was appointed to the position of secretary to Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros, who succeeded Cardinal Cushing as Boston’s archbishop.

In 1975, Father Daily was ordained as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Boston and in 1976, he was appointed vicar general of the archdiocese. Because of his fluency in Spanish, he was given special duties regarding the Spanish-speaking members of the archdiocese.

On July 17, 1984, Bishop Daily was appointed the first bishop of the new Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla. Among his most noteworthy actions was his leading of pro-life prayer vigils at local abortion clinics.

Bishop Daily also served as the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus for many years. With the Knights, the Diocese of Brooklyn hosted Pope John Paul II for a celebration of the Mass at Aqueduct Race Track Oct. 6,1995.

On Aug. 1, 2003, Bishop Daily announced that his resignation as bishop of Brooklyn had been accepted by the pope.

As bishop emeritus, he was a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a member of the boards of the Society of St. James the Apostle in Boston, and a member of the National Catholic Office for Persons With Disabilities in Washington.

Bishop Daily “served the Knights as supreme chaplain with dedication and joy from 1987 to 2005, and will be deeply missed,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a May 15 statement. “In life, he followed the example of the Good Shepherd and cared deeply for his diocesan flock and for the Knights of Columbus. I invite all Knights and their families to remember him in their prayers.”

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Retired Archbishop Niederauer of San Francisco dies

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SAN FRANCISCO — Retired Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, a longtime English professor and 11-year bishop of Salt Lake City, died May 2 at 80.

He had been living at Nazareth House in San Rafael, California, for several months following a diagnosis of interstitial lung disease.

Retired San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederaue died May 2 at 80. . (CNS/Catholic San Francisco)

Retired San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederaue died May 2 at 80. . (CNS/Catholic San Francisco)

“Archbishop Niederauer was known for his spiritual leadership, intelligence and wisdom, compassion and humor, and was always focused on his responsibility to live and teach the faith,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone in an announcement to the priests of the archdiocese.

“When he was named archbishop, he was asked what he would want the people of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to know about him,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “He answered, ‘I’ve chosen the motto for my coat of arms, ‘to serve and to give,’ because I am convinced servant leadership in the church defines the role of the bishop.’”

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, expressed sadness when he learned about the archbishop’s death. “May God’s warm embrace encircle him unto eternal life,” he said.

“His engaging wit and humor became hallmarks of his open and loving personality, and he always had just the right words and the turn of a phrase to help defuse tensions and to uplift people, no matter what cloud was overhead,” Cardinal Mahony added.

The eighth archbishop of San Francisco, Archbishop Niederauer succeeded seminary classmate and boyhood friend Cardinal William J. Levada, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2005. Archbishop Niederauer served in San Francisco from 2006 to 2012.

Born June 14, 1936, in Los Angeles, the only son of a banker-turned homebuilder and a homemaker, Archbishop Niederauer attended Stanford University for one year before he entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. He was ordained to the priesthood April 30, 1962, for the Los Angeles archdiocese.

He earned a doctorate in English from the University of Southern California in 1966, and spent 27 years as English professor, spiritual director, theology teacher and rector at St. John’s Seminary and at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles before his 1994 appointment by St. John Paul II as bishop of Salt Lake City. He also served as associate pastor from 1962 to 1963 in the Los Angeles area.

Coming to San Francisco, Archbishop Niederauer left behind a Utah diocese in an area heavily influenced by the traditional values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to grapple with a number of controversial issues.

In 2008, he supported California Proposition 8, which declared marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The proposition passed although it was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time that a Latter-day Saints official credited Archbishop Niederauer’s outreach in support of the proposition with a commitment to grass-roots campaigning and $20 million.

In 2006, Archbishop Niederauer closed the archdiocese’s 99-year-old Catholic Charities adoption service, and in 2008 severed ties with a contracted adoption agency after Cardinal Levada at the Vatican directed an end to all adoptions by same-sex couples.

In 2010, House Speaker and San Francisco Representative Nancy Pelosi contended in a Newsweek interview that freedom of conscience meant her advocacy for abortion rights was compatible with her Catholic faith. Archbishop Niederauer disagreed in a January 2010 column in Catholic San Francisco, saying “while we deeply respect the freedom of our fellow citizens, we nevertheless are profoundly convinced that free will cannot be cited as justification for society to allow moral choices that strike at the most fundamental rights of others. Such a choice is abortion, which constitutes the taking of innocent human life, and cannot be justified by any Catholic notion of freedom.”

Archbishop Niederauer also defended religious freedom, opposing a proposed ban on circumcision by the Board of Supervisors, and actively supported immigrant rights.

In retirement, Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Niederauer shared a home on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, California. During his nearly five years of retirement, he regularly led retreats for bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious and seminarians.

Archbishop Niederauer served as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communication, and as a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. His book, “Precious as Silver: Imagining Your Life with God” was published in 2003. It explores biblical images of Christian life and reflects on spirituality centered on Jesus.

A funeral Mass was set for May 12 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

 

 

 

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Czech Cardinal Vlk dies, was clandestine priest under communist regime

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, who washed windows and ministered underground during communism, died of cancer March 18 in Prague at the age of 84.

The retired archbishop of Prague was elected the first East European president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and dedicated his term to rebuilding the church and society after communism in the East and defending Christian values in the face of secularism and materialism in the West.

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, retired archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic, died March 18 at the age of 84. Cardinal Vlk worked as a window cleaner while secretly carrying out his priestly ministry during the communist era. He is pictured arriving for a general congregation meeting prior to the election of a new pope at the Vatican in this March 7, 2013, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, retired archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic, died March 18 at the age of 84. Cardinal Vlk worked as a window cleaner while secretly carrying out his priestly ministry during the communist era. He is pictured arriving for a general congregation meeting prior to the election of a new pope at the Vatican in this March 7, 2013, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In a telegram to Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague, Pope Francis recalled “with admiration” the late cardinal’s “tenacious fidelity to Christ despite the privation and persecution against the church.”

The pope also praised his fruitful ministry, which was driven by a desire to share the joy of the Gospel with everyone and promote “an authentic ecclesial renewal” that was always faithful to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Born May 17, 1932, in Lisnice, Czechoslovakia, he studied history at Prague’s Charles University, earned a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Prague and was a trained archivist.

Ten years after he was ordained a priest in 1968, the communist regime revoked his license to engage in priestly ministry. The regime persecuted clerics, imprisoning them and forcing them into menial jobs; he spent the next 10 years washing windows of government buildings.

However, he continued to minister in secret, like other barred priests, and maintained contacts with students and dissident groups.

“The will of God can be different in different moments of our life,” he said in 1991. “Sometimes it is his will that I wash the windows and other times to be archbishop.”

In the years following his 1988 return to open ministry as a priest, Cardinal Vlk and his homeland faced many changes, including massive anti-government protests.

St. John Paul II appointed the then-57-year-old priest to be bishop of Ceske Budejovice in February 1990, two months after Czechoslovakia’s 40-year communist regime was overthrown by a popular and largely nonviolent uprising.

The late pope then named him archbishop of Prague in 1991 and, in 1993, when Czechoslovakia became two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, he became primate of the Czech church. St. John Paul made him a cardinal in 1994.

Internally, the post-communist church had to cope with a shortage of trained clergy and laity and a lack of churches and other buildings because the communist government had confiscated church property.

Cardinal Vlk was a strong supporter of Catholic lay movements, and said that, like religious orders in past centuries, lay movements today express the “needs of our time.”

The highlighting of the laity’s role may even be a hidden benefit of the priest shortage, he had said. While the lack of clergy has serious implications for sacramental life, “the life of the church is not only the sacraments,” he said. The most important thing is to genuinely “live the life of the Gospel,” he said.

In 2002, President Vaclav Havel awarded Cardinal Vlk the Czech Republic’s senior Masaryk Prize in recognition of his work for democracy and human rights.

With Cardinal Vlk’s death, the College of Cardinals has 224 members, 117 of whom are under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

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Plaintiff in Roe v. Wade ruling, who later became pro-life and a Catholic, dies

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KATY, Texas — Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff “Jane Roe” in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion virtually on demand, died Feb. 18 at an assisted-living facility in Katy. She was 69.

The New York Times said a New York journalist named Joshua Prager, who interviewed her many times for a book he is writing about the Roe decision, confirmed that she had died. The cause of death was heart failure. Her funeral will be private, family members said.

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in the United States,  died Feb. 18 at age 69. She is pictured in a 2005 photo. (CNS photo/Shaun Heasley, Reuters)

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in the United States, died Feb. 18 at age 69. She is pictured in a 2005 photo. (CNS photo/Shaun Heasley, Reuters)

McCorvey became a pro-life supporter in 1995 after spending years as a proponent of legal abortion. She also became a born-again Christian. A couple of years later, she said she felt called to join the Catholic Church of her youth. Her mother was Catholic and her father was a Jehovah’s Witness. After instruction in the faith, she was accepted into the church in 1998.

“Losing a loved one is always a difficult time for a family. Losing a loved one who was also a public figure at the center of a national controversy brings additional challenges. It also brings additional consolations,” said a Feb. 19 statement from McCorvey’s family released by Priests for Life.

The family thanked the “many people across America and around the world who, in these days, are expressing their condolences, their prayers, and their gratitude for the example Mom gave them in standing up for life and truth. Though she was the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, she worked hard for the day when that decision would be reversed.”

McCorvey’s family said Priests for Life would be organizing memorial Masses and other services around the country “to give more people an opportunity to remember Mom’s life and work.”

Born in Simmesport, Louisiana, Sept. 22, 1947, Norma Leah Nelson was raised briefly at her family’s home in Lettsworth, Louisiana. The family later moved to Houston. McCorvey was 13 when her father left. Her parents divorced, and she and her older brother were raised by their mother, Mildred, who was said to be violent toward her children.

Norma married Woody McCorvey when she was 16. When she was pregnant with the couple’s first child, she moved in with her mother, alleging Woody had assaulted her. She gave birth to daughter Melissa in 1965. She struggled with alcoholism and came out as a lesbian. The following year, McCorvey became pregnant with her second child, who was put up for adoption.

In 1969, when she was 21 and became pregnant a third time, she tried to obtain an illegal abortion but had no luck as state authorities had shut down such operations. She was referred to lawyers seeking a plaintiff for an abortion suit against the state of Texas. The case took three years to reach the Supreme Court. McCorvey gave her baby up for adoption.

“I did sign the affidavit that brought the holocaust of abortion into this nation,” McCorvey said later. But “I found out about Roe v. Wade like everyone else did, in the paper.”

McCorvey said she was told that legalizing abortion would end back-alley abortions and “probably” put a stop to rape and incest. “They (the lawyers) had a hidden agenda,” she said. “They told me that they only wanted to legalize abortion in the state of Texas, but what they actually wanted to do was what they did, legalize abortion across the land.”

In 1994, after more than two decades of drug use and various jobs at abortion clinics, McCorvey said she began to change her mind about the abortion industry, especially when Operation Rescue moved next door to her workplace, an abortion clinic in Texas.

She was particularly enchanted with the friendliness of two little girls, Emily and Chelsea, who were the daughters of Operation Rescue workers. “I was on the pro-abortion side so long, I didn’t know how to react to kindness and love that all these people and the children were showing me,” McCorvey recalled.

She became disillusioned with her job admitting women for first- and second-trimester abortions. Each weekend, according to McCorvey, clinic staff had to perform enough abortions to meet a $40,000 quota.

“What I didn’t understand at the time was that I was tiring of the abortion movement,” she said, adding she was “fed up with the lies and the mistreatment of the women” coming in for abortions.

When she started counseling women that they were under no obligation to go through with their abortions, reducing the weekend numbers, she was fired, McCorvey said.

In 1995, while attending a church service with Emily and Chelsea’s family, McCorvey answered an “altar call” to come forward and publicly accept Christ. In August that year, she was baptized by the Rev. Flip Benham, then director of Operation Rescue National.

From there, increased contact with Catholic pro-life leaders both inside and outside the Dallas Diocese led to her decision to become a Catholic. She documented much of her conversion story in her 1997 autobiography, “Won by Love.”

After receiving instruction in the Catholic faith at St. Albert’s Priory at the University of Dallas, she became a Catholic Aug. 17, 1998. She received holy Communion and confirmation at a private Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Dallas and attended by more than 60 family members and friends from the pro-life movement.

“While pro-abortion advocates used Norma McCorvey to advance their efforts to legalize abortion in the early 1970s, she spent the last half of her life attempting to right the terrible wrong … visited upon the country” by the court’s decision in Roe and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.

“Norma became an outspoken advocate for protecting the lives of mothers and their unborn children. … (She) was a friend and valued ally in the fight for life and she will be deeply missed,” Tobias added in a Feb. 18 statement.

 

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Phyllis Schlafly dies; supported pro-life and conservative causes

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WASHINGTON — Phyllis Schlafly, 92, died Sept. 5 at her home in Ladue, Missouri, outside St. Louis, according the Eagle Forum, an organization she founded in 1975. No cause of death was given, but she had been ill for some time.

Phyllis Schlafly, 92, died Sept. 5 at her home in Ladue, Missouri, outside St. Louis, according the Eagle Forum, an organization she founded in 1975. She is pictured in a 2013 photo. (CNS photo/Mary F. Calvert, Reuters)

Phyllis Schlafly, 92, died Sept. 5 at her home in Ladue, Missouri, outside St. Louis, according the Eagle Forum, an organization she founded in 1975. She is pictured in a 2013 photo. (CNS photo/Mary F. Calvert, Reuters)

Schlafly, a Catholic mother of six children, immersed herself for most of her adult life in a host of conservative causes, including stopping ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Schlafly also founded and chaired the National Republican Coalition for Life.

“She served the Lord, her family, and her nation to the utmost,” said a Sept. 6 statement by American Life League president Judie Brown.

“Schlafly not only helped the Republican Party become pro-life in the 1980s, but spent the remainder of her life ensuring it remained so,” said a Sept. 6 statement by Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the March for Life Education & Defense Fund.

Born Aug. 15, 1924, Schlafly did not win every battle she fought — abortion is still legal in the United States; she made three unsuccessful bids for public office, she backed Barry Goldwater for president in 1964 and the candidacy of Alan Keyes in the 2000 Republican primaries — but she was engaged in so many battles on so many fronts that, invariably, she won some.

The ERA was her first major victory. Her group, STOP ERA, later became the Eagle Forum.

Schlafly also went after the U.S. bishops’ proposed pastoral letter on women with the same vigor. In a 1988 interview with the Catholic Times, newspaper of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, she said that if sexism was a sin, as one draft declared, the bishops would have to acknowledge the church has exploited and oppressed women, and that notion was “ridiculous.”

“The whole notion that the church has somehow made women second-class or discriminated against them is contrary to history, contrary to fact and contrary to the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of Catholics,” she said.

In 1998, Schlafly berated the Patient Access to Responsible Care Act, saying its language had unintended consequences that could mandate abortion coverage. The bill died in committee despite its sponsorship by a Republican congressman and it having more than 200 co-sponsors. But she lost a bid that January to have the Republican National Committee deny campaign funds to any congressional candidate who didn’t oppose partial-birth abortion.

Schlafly, however, convinced the Republican Party to adopt and strengthen its platform language on abortion prior to party conventions. “Phyllis is the reason the Republican Party is a pro-life party,” said a Sept. 5 statement by Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

At a 1994 forum on the GOP’s platform’s treatment of life issues, Schlafly said, “The Republican Party was born on the principle that no human being should be considered the property of another. That is our heritage as Republicans and it would be a tragic mistake to abandon that fundamental precept now.”

During a 1989 debate in Knoxville, Tennessee, against Roe v. Wade lawyer Sarah Weddington; Schlafly said banning abortions would not be a question of governmental interference. “It’s a question of an individual who’s able to kill another human being,” she said. “The question is not who’s going to die. The question is who’s going to kill.”

At the time of the U.S. bishops’ 1988 fall meeting, Schlafly commended St. John Paul II for having “ceaselessly taught the truth about woman,” and denounced “false feminism” to which, the group said, even Catholic pastors are “appearing to succumb.” She also chastised the bishops for their support of the Act for Better Child Care, asking them to repudiate the legislation, calling it nothing more than a “federal baby-sitting bill.”

Schlafly still stumped on the issue at a 1990 Eagle Forum conference in Washington, saying that any savings from a post-Cold War “peace dividend” should be used to help cope with child care needs, by giving them “a tax reduction … not a federal baby-sitting bureaucracy.”

Schlafly and her husband, John, co-founded the Cardinal Mindszenty Society in 1958 to warn Catholics of communism’s dangers. Her sister-in-law, Eleanor Schlafly, ran the organization. Phyllis Schlafly was also member of the Catholic Campaign for America’s national committee, 1991-94.

In addition to her children, Schlafly is survived by 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Cardinal Macharski, 89, retired archbishop of Krakow, dies

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, the retired successor to St. John Paul II as archbishop of Krakow, died Aug. 2 at the age of 89.

Krakow's Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, who died Aug. 2 at the age of 89, is pictured in this 2011 file photo during Mass in Piekary Slaskie, Poland. (CNS photo/Andrzej Grygiel, EPA)

Krakow’s Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, who died Aug. 2 at the age of 89, is pictured in this 2011 file photo during Mass in Piekary Slaskie, Poland. (CNS photo/Andrzej Grygiel, EPA)

Just five days before his death, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray at the hospital where the cardinal was in a coma.

Meeting the bishops of Poland July 27, Pope Francis said that he knew they all were worried about the ailing cardinal, even if they could no longer visit with him. “At least draw close,” the pope told them; go to the hospital and “touch the wall as if to say, ‘Brother, I am near.’ To visit the sick is a work of mercy.”

In a message of condolence after the cardinal’s death, Pope Francis said he wanted to offer “a prayer of thanksgiving for the life and pastoral commitment of this well-deserving minister of the Gospel.”

‘“Jesus I trust in you’ — this episcopal motto guided his life and ministry,” the pope said. The motto is taken from St. Faustina Kowalka’s Divine Mercy devotion.

“With trust in divine mercy,” the cardinal fulfilled his ministry “as a father to the priests and faithful entrusted to his care,” the pope said. “In a period of political and social transformations that were not easy, he guided the church in Krakow with wisdom,” working to promote respect for the dignity of every person and for the good of the church community as Poland transitioned from communist rule to democracy.

“I am grateful that providence made it possible for me to visit him during by recent trip to Krakow,” the pope continued.

The cardinal suffered greatly at the end of his life, Pope Francis said, “but even in this trial, he remained a faithful witness of trusting in the goodness and mercy of God. That is how he will stay in my memory and prayer.”

Just a few months after becoming pope, St. John Paul handpicked Cardinal Macharski to succeed him as archbishop of Krakow. The late pope personally ordained him a bishop on the feast of Epiphany, Jan. 6, 1979, and named him to the College of Cardinals six months later.

Franciszek Macharski was born May 20, 1927. During World War II, when the city was under German occupation, he worked as a menial laborer, according to his Vatican biography. After the war, he entered the Krakow seminary and studied theology at Jagiellonian University. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1950.

After six years of parish work, he was sent to Fribourg, Switzerland, to earn his doctorate in pastoral theology. Returning to Krakow, he was named spiritual director of the seminary and taught pastoral theology. He became rector of the seminary in 1970. As a canon of the cathedral, he accompanied then-Archbishop Karol Wojtyla on trips to Canada, the United States, France, Germany and Italy.

He retired as archbishop of Krakow in June 2005.

Cardinal Macharski’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 211 members, 112 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.

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Chinese priest dies under mysterious circumstances

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HONG KONG — A Catholic priest who once operated a website that ran afoul of Chinese authorities has died under mysterious circumstances.

On Nov. 11, police informed the family of Father Pedro Yu Heping, also known as Wei Heping, that the priest’s body had been found in the Fen River, a tributary of the Yellow River that flows through Shanxi province, reported ucanews.com.

Father Yu’s body was found Nov. 8, a day after the priest was supposed to be arriving in Xingcheng, in northeastern Liaoning province.

Church leaders from different parts of China and faithful who were close to the priest gathered in Taiyuan, Shanxi’s provincial capital, where his body was found, hoping to get more information.

“Two nuns saw Father Yu off for a bus to the train station in Taiyuan on Nov. 6,” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous. “Various church members were still able to talk to him over the phone that day.”

Father Yu was expected to appear in Xingcheng in the afternoon of Nov. 7 to join a catechetical meeting, but he did not show up. Earlier in the day, a nun received a text message from Father Yu’s mobile phone. The message contained only one Chinese character, bie, which could be interpreted to mean “farewell,” the source said.

“No one believed Father Yu, as a dedicated priest, would commit suicide,” the source told ucanews.com. “But now even a postmortem is not trustworthy.”

Father Yu, 40, was the first webmaster of Tianzhujiao Zaixian, a popular Catholic web portal established in early 2000. Because of the time difference between Europe and Asia, he and his team could translate news from the Vatican in a timely manner, leading the unregistered website to become very popular among Chinese Catholics.

However, the website’s popularity drew attention from Chinese authorities, and it was subsequently shut down. Father Yu claimed he was no longer involved with the website after it reopened in 2003.

Father Yu was born in Shanxi. He studied at Baoding seminary in Hebei province from 1993 until 1997. He was ordained a priest of Ningxia diocese in 2004.

He furthered his studies at the Pontifical Bolivarian University in Medellin, Colombia, and at the Pontifical University of Salamanca in Spain. After earning master’s degrees in church social teachings in 2006 and in canon law in 2007, he returned and taught in various seminaries in China.

In recent years, Father Yu was active in publishing a theological journal and conducting research at several cultural institutes in China. He also brought young Catholics to preach and serve in remote areas.

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Father Leo Philip McGann, a retired priest of diocese, dies at 80

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Dialog reporter

Father Leo Philip McGann, a retired priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, died June 13 at Virtua Memorial Hospice Unit in Mount Laurel, N.J. He was 80.

Father Leo Philip McGann (file photo)

 

Father McGann was born in Moorestown, N.J., and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wilmington in 1971.

During his 21 years in service in the diocese, he served as an associate pastor of Holy Cross, Dover; St. John’s-Holy Angels, Newark; and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Ocean City, Md. He was named pastor of Sacred Heart, Chestertown, Md., and four years later he returned to St. Mary Star of the Sea as pastor.

His other roles in the diocese included membership on the diocesan Pastoral Commission and the Liturgical Commission.

Before entering the priesthood, Father McGann had been a member of the Christian Brothers, which he joined as a student at La Salle College. He was a teacher and administrator in Christian Brothers schools in Arlington, Va., Philadelphia, New Mexico and Canada. He was also the director general of the Baltimore province before leaving the congregation.

In 1992 he took medical retirement and moved back to New Jersey, where he lived until his death.

A viewing will be held June 18 from 7-9 p.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown, N.J., his childhood parish. The funeral Mass will be June 19 at 10:30 a.m., also at Good Counsel. Burial will follow at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Hainesport, N.J.

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Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Vatican correspondent, church spokeswoman, dies

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Catholic News Service

ALBANY, N.Y. — Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who went from hometown schoolteacher to Vatican correspondent, lived out her drive to be a writer even in her last days. She died April 28 in her hometown of Albany, New York, after a battle with cancer.

Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh talks with a journalist during the U.S. bishops' fall 2007 meeting in Baltimore. Sister Mary Ann, 68, a writer in the Catholic press and longtime spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops, died April 28 in Albany, N.Y. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh talks with a journalist during the U.S. bishops’ fall 2007 meeting in Baltimore. Sister Mary Ann, 68, a writer in the Catholic press and longtime spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops, died April 28 in Albany, N.Y. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Sister Mary Ann, 68, had stepped down last summer from her role of 21 years in media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the last six years as director. Just as she began a transition to a new job she quickly came to love, writing for America Magazine as the Jesuit publication’s U.S. church correspondent, she learned that she had fast-growing metastatic cancer and moved home to the motherhouse in Albany where she had entered the Sisters of Mercy 50 years earlier.

Over the next nine months as her health declined, Sister Mary Ann wrote obliquely about her own impending death, such as in a piece about the “underutilized sacrament of anointing of the sick,” shortly after she hosted a gathering of friends as she received the sacrament herself.

Her articles included observations about journalism, politics, civility in society, the effects of youth sports schedules on families that attend church and many other topics. In her last blog, published March 25, Sister Mary Ann tackled the topic of the need for mercy, as Pope Francis declared a jubilee year of mercy beginning in December.

In interviews with Catholic News Service and for the Sisters of Mercy, she talked frankly about the progression of her cancer and the inevitability of its outcome, though never complaining and always with appreciation for the outpouring of support she was getting.

As word spread of her death, tributes were effusive from people who knew and worked with Sister Mary Ann.

Reporters, colleagues and bishops praised her deep faith, her determination, her trail-blazing as a woman and a nun and her abiding friendship.

In addition to being a good friend and gifted writer, said Susan Gibbs, a public relations professional who was formerly spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, Sister Mary Ann “helped break the marble ceiling for women in the church.”

Phil Pullella, senior correspondent in Italy and the Vatican for Reuters told of his friendship with Sister Mary Ann that began when she was a reporter in Rome for Catholic News Service.

“I always called her ‘Mother Mary’ and she always called me ‘my son,’” he said in a note to CNS. “Mary Ann was an exceptionally generous woman. … When she moved to America magazine, she wrote some of the clearest insightful, informed and entertaining columns about the U.S. church that I have ever read.”

Archbishop John Wester, bishop of Salt Lake City, who will become archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June, visited Sister Mary Ann in March, presenting her with the St. Francis de Sales Award, the highest honor given by the Catholic Press Association. He is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Communications.

Archbishop Wester said he has “the deepest respect for her integrity and her love for the church. She was a clear thinker who could write persuasively and in a captivating manner.”

Like many others, he commented on her “clever wit” and her ability to “read people’s hearts with ease.”

Sister Mary Ann was born in Albany, Feb. 25, 1947, the only daughter of Irish immigrants. After attending local Catholic schools staffed by the Sisters of Mercy, she entered the order as a 17-year-old. She earned degrees in English at the College of St. Rose in Albany and began teaching elementary and then high school.

But the writing bug, which had led her as a child to stay up late, scribbling under the bedcovers under the light of a gooseneck lamp, soon led her to a reporting job at The Evangelist, newspaper of the Albany Diocese.

She went on to become a Vatican correspondent for Catholic News Service and then its media editor. In those roles, she traveled the world with Pope John Paul II and sat down for interviews with movie stars, including Raul Julia, Gene Hackman and Bruce Willis.

“Rome taught me how to cover Hollywood,” she told CNS in interviews in January. “They’re both complete bureaucracies.”

Her career path led her to the media relations staff of the USCCB, where she managed arrangements for press coverage of World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, for several other visits to the U.S. by St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and for the ins and outs of news about the U.S. church, from the sex abuse crisis to the annual meetings of the U.S. bishops.

 

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Cardinal Francis E. George, retired archbishop of Chicago, dies at 78

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CHICAGO — Cardinal Francis E. George, the retired archbishop of Chicago who was the first native Chicagoan to head the archdiocese, died April 17 at his residence after nearly 10 years battling cancer. He was 78.

His successor in Chicago, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, called Cardinal George “a man of peace, tenacity and courage” in a statement he read at a news conference held outside Holy Name Cathedral to announce the death.

Retired Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George died April 17, after a 10-year bout with cancer. CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Retired Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George died April 17, after a 10-year bout with cancer. CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Archbishop Cupich singled out Cardinal George for overcoming many obstacles to become a priest, and “not letting his physical limitations moderate his zeal for bringing the promise of Christ’s love where it was needed most.”

A childhood bout with polio had left the prelate with a weakened leg and a pronounced limp throughout his life.

With the cardinal’s death, the College of Cardinals has 223 members, of whom 121 are under 80 and thus eligible to vote for a pope.

Cardinal George was a philosophy professor and regional provincial then vicar general of his religious order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, before being named a bishop in 1990.

He was named bishop of Yakima, Washington, in 1990, then was appointed archbishop of Portland, Oregon, in April 1996. Less than a year later, St. John Paul II named him to fill the position in Chicago, which was left vacant by the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in November 1996.

By retiring in 2014, Cardinal George accomplished what he often joked was his aspiration, to be the first cardinal-archbishop of Chicago to step down from the job, rather than dying in office, as his predecessors had. In the last few months the archdiocese had issued a series of press releases about changes in Cardinal George’s health status as it declined.

At an event Jan. 30 where he received an award from the Knights of Columbus, Cardinal George spoke frankly about living with terminal illness, saying that his doctors had exhausted the options for treating his disease and that he was receiving palliative care.

“They’ve run out of tricks in the bag, if you like,” he said. “Basically, I’m in the hands of God, as we all are in some fashion.”

In a catechesis session during World Youth Day in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 2005, Cardinal George told the youths that having polio at the age of 13 left him, “a captive in my own body. I soon learned that self-pity got me nowhere. Faith was the way out, because in faith I was not alone, and good can come of something that appears bad at that time.”

Archbishop Cupich in his statement also noted that when the U.S. church “struggled with the grave sin of clerical sexual abuse, (Cardinal George) stood strong among his fellow bishops and insisted that zero tolerance was the only course consistent with our beliefs.”

He observed that Cardinal George had offered his counsel and support to three popes, serving the worldwide church. In Chicago, Archbishop Cupich noted, the cardinal “visited every corner of the archdiocese, talking with the faithful and bringing kindness to every interaction.”

 

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