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Rev. King’s nonviolent philosophy needs to be lived today, speakers say

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s support of nonviolence to bring about social change applies as much to today’s society as it did when Rev. King put his philosophy to paper 60 years ago, said speakers at an Oct. 2 news conference at the memorial dedicated to the civil rights figure in Washington.

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, is seen near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington Oct. 2. He and other faith leaders gathered near the monument to commemorate Rev. King’s 1957 essay about “Nonviolence and Racial Justice.” (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

That the news conference was scheduled in advance of, and held the day after, the Las Vegas shooting spree that killed 58 people and injured more than 500 only underscored the importance of Rev. King’s message, according to the speakers.

“It’s hard to find something in times like these that doesn’t sound like clichés,” said Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. “As a society, we need to stop making excuses and commit to nonviolence.”

He added, “Pope Francis speaks of the earth as our common home. So it is. And so it is with our society. … It is so easy to speak of human dignity,” said, “but do we believe it selectively — applying it to some people but not to others?”

Bishop Murry, who is African-American, acknowledged he has been the target of racism and segregation. One of the more frustrating episodes for him, he told Catholic News Service, was when a white airline passenger called for a flight attendant because he did not want to sit next to Bishop Murry.

Rev. King’s essay, “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” appeared in the Feb. 6, 1957, issue of the Christian Century, a theological journal. It laid out his principles for acting nonviolently to seek change.

In his essay, Rev. King wrote: “How is the struggle against the forces of injustice to be waged? There are two possible answers. One is resort to the all too prevalent method of physical violence and corroding hatred. The danger of this method is its futility. Violence solves no social problems; it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Through the vistas of time a voice still cries to every potential Peter, ‘Put up your sword!’ The shores of history are white with the bleached bones of nations and communities that failed to follow this command.”

One of the points Rev. King made about nonviolent resistance as an alternative is that it “does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.”

“The nonviolent resister,” he said, “must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”

“Things looked bleak, and the violence was real, but Rev. King held that high ground. And people rallied to him,” said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, which sponsored the news conference. “He understood that there were two non-negotiable principles in our democracy: first, that all are created equal and are entitled to the equal protection of our nation’s laws; second, that in our democracy, there can be no place for political violence.”

The United States has many challenges, including renewed racism by groups like the Ku Klux Klan, he said, noting that from its founding in 1882, the Knights as an organization “has long assisted the cause of racial equality.”

Anderson added, “Today, as then, we stand united in the principle that all are created equal, and we reiterate the words of Pope Francis last month calling for ‘the rejection of all violence in political life.’ We believe the way of nonviolence is as relevant today as ever.”

“Dr. King is still the beacon of the way forward,” said Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, in remarks delivered by Bishop Edwin C. Bass, president of the denomination’s Urban Initiatives. Bishop Blake added that 2018, the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s assassination, should be seen as “the year of Martin Luther King Jr.,” with programs and conferences to renew the commitment to nonviolence.

The Rev. Eugene Rivers, founder and director of the Boston-based W.J. Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies, called this moment “a biblical opportunity to be salt and light in the midst of this political darkness. … We have to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Rev. Rivers cautioned the change would not be instantaneous: “I’m not optimistic, yes, but I’m full of faith.”

     

Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Bishop Murry says racism demands church’s attention

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — By creating a committee to deal with racism, the country’s Catholic bishops are standing up for the American value of equality and for a Gospel that refutes the hatred and violence the country witnessed Aug. 11 and 12 during white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., said the bishop who will lead the effort. Read more »

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Bishops back Trump’s repeal of directive on transgender bathroom access

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WASHINGTON — The chairmen of two U.S. bishops’ committees Feb. 24 praised President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Obama administration’s directive on transgender access to bathrooms.

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen in this 2014, file photo, at the University of California, Irvine. Two U.S. bishops' committees have endorsed President Trump's repeal of the Obama administration's order on transgender access to bathroom. CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen in this 2014, file photo, at the University of California, Irvine. Two U.S. bishops’ committees have endorsed President Trump’s repeal of the Obama administration’s order on transgender access to bathroom. CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

The guidance, issued last May by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, “indicated that public pre-K through 12 schools, as well as all colleges and universities, should treat ‘a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex,’” said the bishops’ joint statement.

The document “sought to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with sensitive issues involving individual students,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education.

“Such issues are best handled with care and compassion at the local level, respecting the privacy and safety concerns of all students,” they said.

In rescinding the directive, the Trump administration said that addressing of transgender access to bathrooms is best left to the states and local school districts, not the federal government.

The Obama administration said it applied to all public schools as well as colleges and universities that received federal funding. The directive “summarizes a school’s Title IX obligations regarding transgender students,” administration officials said, and that it also explained how the Education and Justice departments will “evaluate a school’s compliance with these obligations.”

The federal Title IX statute prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities, like sports. Some months before issuing the directive, Obama administration had warned schools that denying transgender students access to the facilities and activities of their choice was illegal under its interpretation of federal sex discrimination laws.

Officials at the Justice and Education departments in the Trump administration rejected the previous administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

That directive, they said, was arbitrary and devised “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

“Pope Francis has taught that ‘biological sex’ and the sociocultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated,” said Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Murry, quoting from “Amoris Laetitia,” the papal document on marriage and family.

“The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the well-being of all people, particularly the most vulnerable,” the two prelates said. “Children, youth and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of all young students and parents.”

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Bishop Lennon of Cleveland resigns for health reasons

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Catholic News Service

CLEVELAND — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland. He has headed the diocese since 2006.

Bishop Lennon, who turns 70 in March, said during a news conference at diocesan offices Dec. 28 that he had developed vascular dementia, leading to his decision to submit his resignation for health reasons to the pope in November.

Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland during a 2012 meeting at the Vatican. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Lennon, who has headed the Ohio diocese since 2006. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland during a 2012 meeting at the Vatican. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Lennon, who has headed the Ohio diocese since 2006. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“Recently it has come to my awareness that my health has declined to such an extent that I should resign as diocesan bishop,” he said.

“Given the progressive nature of this illness,” he added. “Pope Francis has accepted my request for an early retirement.”

Normally, bishops do not turn in their resignation to the pope until they turn 75, as required by canon law.

The pope named Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, as the apostolic administrator of the diocese until the installation of a new bishop.

The changes were first announced in Washington early Dec. 28 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Thomas, 57, called Bishop Lennon’s request for an early retirement “both a humble and courageous act, one that speaks volumes to his love for the local church and his desire that the people of God receive the pastoral care they need.”

Having to take on the additional responsibilities of overseeing the Cleveland Diocese was unexpected, Bishop Thomas said. He compared his appointment as apostolic administrator to that of an interim coach.

“My job is to be the conduit from the past to the future,” he said.

Bishop Thomas admitted during the news conference that he had ‘limited’ knowledge of the diocese and that he would undertake a quick study of the Catholic Church that serves 692,000 Catholics in eight counties.

As apostolic administrator, Bishop Thomas said, he would regularly travel between Toledo and Cleveland, a distance of about 120 miles.

“My sister-in-law texted me this morning and said, ‘Well, maybe they should clone you even though the church doesn’t believe in that,’” Bishop Thomas said, smiling. “Someone else said, ‘Well, maybe you should follow the example of Padre Pio.’ But I’m not a saint, so I can’t bi-locate yet.

“But I hope you know I will do everything in my power to work so well with the good folks here and in the Diocese of Toledo to be able to govern the people entrusted to me by Pope Francis until a successor is named,” he said.

Bishop Thomas pointed particularly to the “rich ethnic culture and traditions” represented in northeast Ohio and said he was looking forward to meeting parishioners in the diocese’s 185 parishes as well as the priests, deacons and religious communities that minister to them.

“There is much for me to learn, understand and embrace as I strive, with your help, to get down to the work of governance in shepherding the diocese,” Bishop Thomas said.

Prior to his appointment to head the Toledo diocese in 2015, Bishop Thomas was auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia beginning in 2006. At the archdiocese, he oversaw the Media Affairs Department, the Office for Clergy, including the Department of Permanent Deacons, and the Vocation Office for the archdiocesan priesthood. He was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1985 by Cardinal John J. Krol, a native Clevelander.

Bishop Lennon was an auxiliary bishop of Boston before he was named Cleveland’s 10th bishop by Pope Benedict XVI. During his decade in Cleveland, he led the revision of the statutes governing the diocese’s finance, pastoral and presbyteral councils, established norms governing internal audits of parishes and schools, and carried out a plan to consolidate parishes. The diocese also completed a capital campaign in 2016 that raised more than $170 million for parish and diocesan needs.

A Boston area native, Bishop Lennon was ordained in 1973 and served in the Boston Archdiocese as a parish priest, fire department chaplain, assistant for canonical affairs and rector of St. John’s Seminary.

He was ordained auxiliary bishop for Boston in 2001 and served as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese from December 2002 to July 2003 after Cardinal Bernard F. Law resigned as archbishop in the midst of Boston’s crisis over clergy sexual abuse of minors. Cardinal Law’s successor as archbishop, then-Bishop Sean P. O’Malley, was named that July.

 

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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John Glenn — fighter pilot, astronaut, senator — dies at 95

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Astronaut legend and decorated World War II pilot John H. Glenn, who served for 24 years in the U.S. Senate and inspired young people to pursue careers in sciences and engineering, died Dec. 8. He was 95.

Born in Cambridge and raised in nearby New Concord, Glenn was propelled to fame after being one of seven military test pilots  chosen as the country’s first astronauts. He was the third American in space and the first to orbit earth when he flew aboard the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule, traversing the globe three times in a flight that lasted just less than five hours Feb. 20, 1962.

U.S. astronaut John Glenn, pictured in a 2012 photo, died Dec. 8 at age 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. (CNS photo/Bill Ingall, courtesy NASA)

U.S. astronaut John Glenn, pictured in a 2012 photo, died Dec. 8 at age 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. (CNS photo/Bill Ingall, courtesy NASA)

Among those watching Glenn’s first space flight was St. John XXIII, who asked to be kept regularly informed about the progress of flight.

Glenn became the oldest man to fly in space, when at age 77 and still a senator, he blasted into orbit on the Space Shuttle Oct. 29, 1998, after lobbying the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for two years that he could serve as a “guinea pig for geriatric studies.”

While on the fourth day of the mission, Glenn, a Presbyterian, said, “I pray every day. To look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is, to me, impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, then-secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, praised Glenn the day after the shuttle took off. “Just think of it,” the archbishop said. “A man as old as the pope is now orbiting the world.”

The phrase “Godspeed, John Glenn”was in common use for both missions.

Glenn died surrounded by family at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he been hospitalized for about a week. His wife of 73 years, Annie, was with him.

In a guest sermon, Glenn told a Virginia Presbyterian congregation that the “orderliness of the whole universe,” from the structure of atoms to the arrangement of galaxies, was “one big thing in space that shows me there is a God, some power that put all this into orbit and keeps it there. It wasn’t just an accident.”

Glenn later told a Senate subcommittee he thought it would be foolish to assert that God could be pinpointed to “one particular section of space.” “I don’t know the nature of God any more than anyone else, nor would I claim to because I happened to have made a space ride that got us a little bit above the atmosphere,” he said. “God is certainly bigger than that. I think he will be wherever we go.”

After his astronaut career, the former Marine Corps pilot started a career in business, but subsequently turned to politics, becoming a senator representing his home state in 1976. He served four terms before retiring in 1999. His Senate tenure included the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. He also served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, Armed Services Committee, and the Special Committee on Aging.

Reaction to Glenn’s death came from across the country.

NASA immediately posted a tribute on its website to the space hero after his death was announced. The space agency had renamed its Lewis Research Center in Cleveland the John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in 1999.

President Barack Obama, who awarded Glenn the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, said in a statement that the country had lost an icon.

“John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond; not just to visit, but to stay,” Obama said.

“The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on earth compels us to keep reaching for the heaves. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn,” the statement concluded.

The son of a plumber, Glenn flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II, taking direct hits several times but always returned to his airbase. He also was assigned to fly a jet interceptor in the Korean War. For his 149 combat missions in both wars, he was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross six times and the Air Medal with 18 award stars.

He was a winner of the Legion of Honor medal, the highest award of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, an interfaith organization dedicated to four Army chaplains who died together in World War II.

Glenn also completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight, from California to New York, in 1957.

On the eve of his retirement from the Senate, Glenn placed fifth among the world’s most admired men in an annual Gallup poll, placing behind only President Bill Clinton, St. John Paul II, evangelist Billy Graham and basketball star Michael Jordan.

After politics, he founded the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, now known as the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. He taught at the school as an adjunct professor.

Besides his wife, Glenn is survived by two children, David and Carolyn Ann, and two grandchildren.

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Pope blesses 5-year-old Ohio girl who is losing her sight and hearing

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Jesus brought humanity God’s merciful, saving love, not hatred and animosity, Pope Francis said.

“Jesus makes visible a love open to everyone, nobody excluded, open to everyone without bounds,” he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square April 6.

Pope Francis greets Lizzy Myers from Mansfield, Ohio, during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 6. Myers, who has a disease that is gradually rendering her blind and deaf, met the pope as part of her "visual bucket list." (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets Lizzy Myers from Mansfield, Ohio, during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 6. Myers, who has a disease that is gradually rendering her blind and deaf, met the pope as part of her “visual bucket list.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope also met with and blessed the eyes of 5-year-old Lizzy Myers from Mansfield, Ohio.

Struck by a rare disease that is gradually rendering her deaf and blind, Myers was in Rome after a representative from Turkish Airlines heard about her story and offered her and her family free round-trip airfare to any city in the world.

Her parents, Steve and Christine Myers, had created a “visual bucket list” of places and things they wanted Lizzy to see before she loses her sight due to Usher Syndrome Type II A. They chose Rome and the Vatican to be their special destination because they are Catholic and because of the city’s artistic and historical riches, they told Associated Press.

After meeting with bishops and a few special delegations at the end of his general audience, Pope Francis went directly to Lizzy Myers, who was seated with her family in a section reserved for those with special needs. He leaned over her for several minutes, speaking with her and then laid his right hand over her eyes, offering his blessing. Vatican Radio said she gave the pope a small box containing a piece of a meteorite that fell in Ohio.

During his general audience, the pope continued a series of talks dedicated to God’s mercy and reflected on how this mercy was fulfilled in Jesus.

The New Testament “is truly the Gospel of mercy because Jesus is mercy,” he said.

At every moment in his life, Jesus showed love to everyone: a love that is “pure, free and absolute,” the pope said.

Jesus began his mission of mercy with his baptism in the Jordan River, the pope said, waiting in line “with the sinners, he wasn’t ashamed, he was there with everyone, with the sinners, to get baptized.”

He could have begun his public ministry with lots of fanfare, “in the splendor of the temple,” to the blast of trumpets or “in the garments of a judge,” but he didn’t, the pope said. Instead he chose to be with the people, taking on “the human condition, spurred by solidarity and compassion.”

His driving purpose was “to bring everyone the love of God who saves; Jesus didn’t bring hatred, he didn’t bring animosity, he brought us love, a great love, an open heart for everyone, for all of us,” the pope said.

Jesus accompanied the least and the marginalized, sharing with them “the mercy of God who is forgiveness, joy and new life. The son sent by the father is truly the beginning of the time of mercy for all of humanity.”

The great mystery of this love is seen in the crucified Christ, the pope said, because “it is on the cross that Jesus offered to the father’s mercy the sin of the world, everyone’s sins, my sins, your sins” and took those sins away.

“Nothing and no one remains excluded from this sacrificial prayer of Jesus,” which means “we mustn’t be afraid to acknowledge and confess ourselves as sinners,” he said.

So often “we say, ‘well, that one is a sinner, this one did such-and-such.’ We accuse others of being sinners, and you? Each one of us should ask ourselves, ‘Yes, that one is a sinner, and me?’”

“We are all sinners, but we are all forgiven,” Pope Francis said. “We all have the possibility of receiving this forgiveness that is God’s mercy.”

The sacrament of reconciliation, he said, gives the penitent heart “the strength of the forgiveness that flows from the cross and renews in our lives the grace of mercy that Jesus obtained for us.”

People never need to fear their burdens and sins because “the power of love of the crucified one knows no obstacles and never runs out” as it wipes away human sin, he said.

When greeting special delegations at the end of his audience, the pope met with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who was heading to Iraqi Kurdistan to show solidarity with the church there. The cardinal, who is chairman of the board of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, was traveling there with other members of CNEWA and church leaders.

The pope also met briefly with and posed for a group photo with members of a diocesan pastoral association in Italy for separated and divorced Catholics.

A representative of the group, “L’Anello Perduto,” (the lost ring), had received a phone call from the pope in February, according to Vatican Radio, after group members sent a letter explaining their formation program and requesting a papal audience.

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Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, dies after long illness

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mother Angelica, who founded the Eternal Word Television Network and turned it into one of the world’s largest religious media operations, died March 27 at age 92.

Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network, died at age 92 March 27 at the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in Hanceville, Ala. (CNS/courtesy EWTN)

Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network, died at age 92 March 27 at the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in Hanceville, Ala. (CNS/courtesy EWTN)

Feisty and outspoken, she was a major controversial figure in the U.S. church in the closing decades of the 20th century. At the same time, the international scope of EWTN’s media operations gave her a ready calling card at the Vatican. She built the venture into a network that transmits programs 24 hours a day to more than 230 million homes in 144 countries via cable and other technologies. It broadcasts in in English and several other languages.

Mother Angelica had been ill for years. She was operated on Dec. 24, 2001, in a Birmingham hospital to remove a blood clot in her brain after suffering her second major stroke. It left her with partial paralysis and a speech impediment.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross to her and Deacon Bill Steltemeier, then-chairman of EWTN’s board of governors, for distinguished service to the church. The cross, whose name is Latin for “for the church and the pope,” is the highest papal honor that can be conferred on laypeople and clergy.

Because of ill health, Mother Angelica received the award in her private quarters. But in the public ceremony, Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham said “Mother Angelica’s effort has been at the vanguard of the new evangelization and has had a great impact on our world.”

Mother Angelica was equally at home giving a scale model of her satellite dish to St. John Paul II or ruffling the feathers of high-ranking church officials with whom she disagreed.

In 1997, she got into a public squabble with Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles when, on her TV show “Mother Angelica Live,” she criticized his pastoral letter on the Eucharist, saying it was confusing about the real presence of Christ.

“I’m afraid my obedience in that diocese would be absolutely zero. And I hope everyone else’s in that diocese is zero,” she said.

In 1990, EWTN canceled an exclusive contract to air programs produced by the U.S. bishops after disagreements over EWTN’s coverage of bishops’ conference meetings.

In 1993, she termed “blasphemous” a church-sponsored World Youth Day event during St. John Paul’s visit to Denver because a mime troupe used a woman to portray Jesus in a dramatized Way of the Cross. She said the event showed the “destructive force” of the “liberal church in America.”

The criticism sparked Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee to call her attack “vitriolic.”

Mother Angelica, a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, often said she accompanied her faith with a “theology of risk” that gave her the resolve to undertake large projects without any clear indication she would succeed.

“Faith is having one foot on the ground and the other up in the air, waiting for the Lord to put the ground under it,” she once said of her hands-on approach to doing things.

“We have lost the theology of risk and replaced it with a theology of assurance” that says “you have to know what’s going to happen before you embark on something new,” she said on another occasion.

Before starting EWTN, Mother Angelica wrote what she called mini-books on moral and inspirational themes. The popularity of the mini-books attracted media attention, and Mother Angelica began appearing on television talk shows. She said these appearances made her aware of the tremendous influence television has in spreading messages.

Prior to starting EWTN, Mother Angelica was renting studio space from a Birmingham television station to produce videotapes of her talks on religious issues for airing on the Christian Broadcasting Network. She broke the relationship with the network after it aired a movie she considered blasphemous.

With the support of her religious community, Mother Angelica began consulting with media experts about starting her own TV station, hatching the idea of EWTN. She was granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission, and EWTN went on the air in August 1981.

She began with $200 and little knowledge about TV production. The operation started in a building meant to be a garage on the grounds of the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery she headed in the Irondale suburb of Birmingham. Originally its daily programming of several hours was carried by three cable systems.

In 1992, Mother Angelica launched the short-wave EWTN Global Catholic Radio which broadcasts in English and Spanish. In 1996, EWTN started a satellite-delivered AM/FM radio network with programming also available for rebroadcast by local stations.

In 1998, Mother Angelica stepped down as the head of EWTN and Deacon Steltemeier was appointed chairman and CEO. He died in 2013.

Mother Angelica was born April 20, 1923, as Rita Rizzo in an Italian neighborhood in Canton, Ohio. She described her childhood as rough. Her father abandoned the family when she was young and her parents eventually divorced. She lived with her mother and said their existence was marked by poverty.

“We lived in rat-infested apartments; our life was so hard. I was interested in survival so I didn’t do well in school. It’s hard when you’re hungry and cold to study,” she recalled in 1987.

In 1944, she joined her religious order and professed her solemn vows in Canton in 1953 as Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation.

In 1962, she founded Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, a move she said was to fulfill a promise to Christ if she emerged from an operation able to walk. The operation was necessary after she slipped while using an electric scrubbing machine and was thrown against the wall, injuring her spine. After the operation, she used a leg brace.

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Phila. auxiliary bishop to lead Toledo diocese

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, to head the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, publicized the appointment Aug. 26.

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Philadelphia, 55, to head the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Philadelphia, 55, to head the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Born June 11, 1959, and raised in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk, Bishop Thomas, 55, has been an auxiliary bishop in his hometown since 2006. He was ordained for the Philadelphia archdiocese in 1985, after attending the local St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and obtaining his licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was named to what has been a vacant see since October, when Bishop Leonard P. Blair was named Archbishop of Hartford, Conn.

At a news conference in Toledo Aug. 26, Bishop Thomas expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis, to his predecessor in Toledo and to Father Charles Ritter, who has served as diocesan administrator since Bishop Blair left. He joked about having the same name as the late actor Danny Thomas, but said the important way to identify himself is by “simply stating ‘I am a Roman Catholic bishop,’ I think should say it all.”

In Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said the appointment “demonstrates the confidence our Holy Father has in Bishop Thomas’ pastoral and administrative skills.” He said that since he arrived in Philadelphia almost three years ago, he has “witnessed (Bishop Thomas’) wisdom, intelligence, personal warmth and keen affection for the people of God.”

“The Diocese of Toledo has been given a true gift in Bishop Thomas,” the archbishop said. “I know he will serve them well as a faithful shepherd and spiritual father.”

Bishop Thomas was ordained a priest by Cardinal John Krol in 1985 and ordained an auxiliary bishop by Cardinal Justin Rigali in 2006. The son of the late Francis and Ann Thomas grew up in Holy Family Parish. He graduated in 1977 from Roman Catholic High School before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Following his ordination as a priest, and studies at the Gregorian University, he worked in the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops for 15 years.

He returned to Philadelphia in 2005 as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford before his ordination as bishop a year later. As an auxiliary bishop, he was responsible for administrative oversight of the Department for Media Affairs, the Office for Clergy, the Office for Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood and for Region II, a grouping of 57 parishes in Montgomery County and Northwest Philadelphia.

Bishop Thomas has served on various archdiocesan boards and remains a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, the Ad Hoc Committee on Catechism, and the Committee on Divine Worship. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council for the Saint John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and the Episcopal Advisory Board for the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.

Bishop Thomas will lead a diocese that is home to 124 parishes and 320,000 Catholics out of a total population of 1.46 million. Founded in 1910, the diocese covers 19 counties in northwest Ohio between Cleveland and Detroit, an area roughly four times larger than the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

 

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Pope wants U.S. Catholics to lead church revival

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pope Benedict XVI wants the Catholic Church in America to be in the forefront of reviving Catholicism worldwide, the apostolic nuncio to the United States said in Columbus.

“The church in the United States should lead the entire church in the world” in a revitalization effort, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said. “This is a great task, but you have the determination and the grace to do it. This I know is the vision of the Holy Father regarding the church in the United States.”

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Vatican announces reform of U.S. nuns’ group — updated

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Citing “serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life,” the Vatican announced a major reform of an association of women’s religious congregations in the U.S. to ensure their fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle will provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Vatican announced April 18. The archbishop will be assisted by Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., and draw on the advice of fellow bishops, women religious and other experts.

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