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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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Retired Archbishop Flores, first Hispanic bishop in U.S., dies

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SAN ANTONIO — Retired Archbishop Patrick F. Flores, 87, the first Mexican-American bishop in the United States, died of pneumonia and congestive heart failure Jan. 9 at Padua Place Residence for retired priests in San Antonio.

The bishop, who dropped out of school to be a migrant farmworker, was known for his support for farmworkers, Mexican-American civil rights and his love of his culture and heritage.

The late Archbishop Patricio Fernandez Flores, retired archbishop of San Antonio and the first Mexican-American elevated to the hierarchy in the Catholic Church in the United States, is pictured in this photo from the 1990s. Archbishop Flores, 87, died Jan. 9 of complications of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. (CNS file photo)

The late Archbishop Patricio Fernandez Flores, retired archbishop of San Antonio and the first Mexican-American elevated to the hierarchy in the Catholic Church in the United States, is pictured in this photo from the 1990s. Archbishop Flores, 87, died Jan. 9 of complications of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. (CNS file photo)

A funeral Mass was scheduled for Jan. 17 at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller presiding. The archbishop also will celebrate a Mass for the Dead Jan. 16 at the cathedral followed by visitation.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez described Archbishop Flores as his good friend and mentor and “a pioneer and role model not only for me but also for a generation of Hispanic priests and Latino leaders.”

He said the archbishop of San Antonio, who retired in 2004, “knew the struggles of Hispanics in this country, and he was a friend to the farmworker and a voice of conscience for dignity and human rights. He taught all of us to celebrate our heritage and traditions and encouraged us to share our faith and values proudly and to become leaders in our communities.”

Archbishop Flores, born in Ganado, was one of nine children and called “Ticho” by his family.

His younger sister, Mary Moreno, told Today’s Catholic, newspaper of San Antonio archdiocese, in 2004 that her brother would often walk up and down the road in front of the family home praying the rosary. “He was always very close to God,” she said.

He also had a light side, often winning dance contests with his sister Mary, and played a number of instruments and sang.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1956 in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston and was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Antonio in 1970. Eight years later, he was installed as bishop of El Paso, and in 1979, he was appointed archbishop of San Antonio.

He was a member of the Immigration and Refugee Department of the U.S. Catholic Conference, chairman of the Church in Latin America Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and chairman of the Texas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

In 1987, he welcomed Pope John Paul II to the San Antonio archdiocese as part of the pope’s nine-city tour. The pope celebrated Mass for a crowd of 330,000 people in a field that is now the site of John Paul Stephens High School. The Mass still holds the record for the largest gathering in the state.

In an interview with Today’s Catholic newspaper in preparation for his retirement, Archbishop Flores said what he remembered most fondly of his time as archbishop was simply his life as a priest.

“I’ve spent 48 years as a priest, and I have loved it all. If I had the chance to start all over again, I would not hesitate. I might have prepared better academically and in some other ways. But I have literally found great satisfaction in simply being a priest, being a bishop is simply assuming additional responsibility.”

“I have found it very challenging and very satisfying. So I’ve been happy at it and will continue to be happy,” he added.

Following Archbishop Flores’ retirement, he resided briefly at Casa de Padres retirement center for priests of the archdiocese, but he spent the past several years at the Padua Place residence for priests needing medical assistance.

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Pope Benedict sees the yearning for mercy as a ‘sign of the times’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Although he lives a relatively hidden life in a villa in the Vatican Gardens, retired Pope Benedict XVI continues to study theological questions and, occasionally, to comment on them publicly.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends the Year of Mercy opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 8, 2015. In a written interview, the retired pope commented on the theme of mercy. "Mercy is what moves us toward God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight, Pope Benedict said. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends the Year of Mercy opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 8, 2015. In a written interview, the retired pope commented on the theme of mercy. “Mercy is what moves us toward God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight, Pope Benedict said. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

The attention Pope Francis and many Christians are giving to the theme of divine mercy is a “sign of the times” that shows how, deep down, people still experience a need for God, the retired pope told Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Servais in a written interview.

“Mercy is what moves us toward God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight,” Pope Benedict said in the interview published in mid-March.

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope’s personal secretary, read Pope Benedict’s German text in October at a conference on the doctrine of justification and the experience of God. The retired pope approved the Italian translation of the text, which was published along with other papers presented at the conference.

The doctrine of justification, how people are made righteous in God’s eyes and saved by Jesus, was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation, which will mark its 500th anniversary in 2017.

In the interview, Pope Benedict said, “For people today, unlike at the time of (Martin) Luther and from the classical perspective of the Christian faith, things have been turned upside down in a certain sense: Man no longer thinks he needs to be justified in God’s sight, but rather he is of the opinion that it is God who must justify himself because of all the horrendous things present in the world and in the face of human misery.”

Another sign of a strong change in general thinking that challenges at least medieval Christian thought, he said, is “the sensation that God cannot simply allow the perdition of the majority of humanity.”

Yet, Pope Benedict said, there still exists a general perception that “we need grace and pardon. For me it is one of the ‘signs of the times’ that the idea of God’s mercy is becoming increasingly central and dominant” in Christian thought.

St. Faustina Kowalska’s promotion of the divine mercy devotions in the early 1900s and the ministry and writings of St. John Paul II, “even if it did not always emerge in an explicit way,” both gave a strong push to a popular Christian focus on mercy and to theological explorations of the theme.

St. John Paul “affirmed that mercy is the only true and ultimately effective reaction against the power of evil. Only where there is mercy does cruelty end, only there do evil and violence stop,” said the retired pope, who worked closely with the Polish pope for decades.

“Pope Francis,” he said, “is in complete agreement with this line. His pastoral practice is expressed precisely in the fact that he speaks continuously of God’s mercy.””

The fact that so many people are open to that message, Pope Benedict said, shows that “under the patina of self-assurance” and a conviction of self-righteousness, “man today hides a deep awareness of his wounds and his lack of worthiness before God. He is waiting for mercy.”

Like Pope Francis, Pope Benedict urged a return to the sacrament of reconciliation. That is where, he said, “we let ourselves be molded and transformed by Christ and continually pass from the side of one who destroys to that of the one who saves.”

 

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Benedict calls it absurd to question validity of his resignation

February 26th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In a letter to an Italian journalist, retired Pope Benedict XVI said questions about the validity of his resignation are “absurd.”

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my renunciation of the Petrine ministry,” the retired pope wrote in a letter to Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican correspondent for the newspaper La Stampa and the website Vatican Insider.

Tornielli said he wrote to the retired pope Feb. 14 after reading articles questioning the canonical validity of his announcement Feb. 11, 2013, that he was stepping down.

In the letter, Pope Benedict described as “simply absurd” doubts about how he had formulated his announcement to cardinals gathered for a meeting about canonization causes.

According to the church’s Code of Canon Law, “the only condition for validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision,” he wrote to Tornielli.

Solemnly, in Latin, Pope Benedict had told the cardinals present: “Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”

Tornielli also had asked Pope Benedict why he continues wearing a white cassock, a simplified version of what he wore as pope, and why he did not go back to using his given name, Joseph Ratzinger.

“I continue to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons,” he said. “At the moment of my resignation, there were no other clothes available. In any case, I wear the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the pope wears it. This is another case of completely unfounded speculations being made.”

The retired pope said his only task in the church today is to support Pope Francis with his prayers.

 

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Dialog web exclusive: Sals’ b-ball coach steps down, vice-principal stays

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Staff reporter

WILMINGTON – Mike Gallagher recalled some of the outstanding coaches he had while he was a student and multi-sport athlete at Salesianum School in the late 1960s. Men like Vinnie Scott and Wayne Allen taught him the value of hustle, not backing down and never giving up. He had a similar experience at West Chester State College (now West Chester University).

Since graduating from college, Gallagher has been one of those coaches, leading the basketball team at Salesianum since 1988. His tenure ended earlier this month when the Sals lost in the second round of the state playoffs to Newark, but for Gallagher, 60, wins were nice but never the most important part of the job.

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