Speaking at his noon blessing after celebrating Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica with 41 archbishops from 25 countries on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, Pope Benedict thanked Catholics around the world for the prayers they offered on the occasion of his 60th anniversary as a priest. At the Vatican’s request, church communities around the world joined in 60 hours of eucharistic adoration to mark the anniversary.
The pope also thanked pilgrims, friends and family members of the new archbishops in a special audience with them in the Paul VI hall June 30.
Greeting them in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Lithuanian and Slovenian, the pope welcomed all those who took part in the pallium ceremony and reminded them that the woolen band is “a sign of communion in faith and love and in the governance of God’s people.”
He told the archbishops he was praying for them and that nothing should come before their love for Christ, which is fundamental for their pastoral service.
The pope then greeted each new archbishop, including Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, and Archbishop José H. Gomez, as well as the two or three family members or friends each prelate had chosen to accompany him on stage to meet the pope.
Celebrating Mass with archbishops from 25 countries, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on his 60 years as a priest, calling it a demanding and “awe-inspiring” ministry that brought him closer to God.
The pope’s unusually personal recollection came June 29, the anniversary of his priestly ordination in Bavaria in 1951 and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome.
During the three-hour-long Mass, he gave 41 archbishops the woolen pallium as a sign of their communion with the pope and their pastoral responsibility as shepherds. Among them were four prelates from the United States, including Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and one from Canada.
The liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica began with a fanfare of trumpets. The pope smiled as he processed toward an altar ringed with flowers, pausing to greet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
The pope devoted most of his homily to his 60 years of priestly ministry, and twice he excused himself for perhaps speaking too long about his recollections. He said he felt he had to look back on “the things that have left their mark.”
“’I no longer call you servants, but friends.’ Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony by the archbishop, Cardinal Faulhaber, in his slightly frail yet firm voice,” the pope said.
“I knew, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way,” he said.
The pope said he felt called into the circle of those God knows in a special way, to a friendship that implies responsibilities.
“He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today,” he said.
Pope Benedict said friendship in this sense is about conforming one’s will to God and being prepared to step outside oneself and toward others — moving “beyond the inertia of self-centeredness.”
This calling of the priest to friendship with God is “so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one’s own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness,” he said.
The pope placed the pallium, a stole made from lamb’s wool, around the shoulders of the archbishops as they knelt before him. In his sermon, the pope said the pallium signified the “yoke of friendship with Christ,” the pastoral duty to be a shepherd and communion with the pope.
“It means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ,” he said.
The pallium is presented every year to new archbishops or those who have been assigned to a new archdiocese. Four new archbishops — including Archbishop Guire Poulard of Port-au-Prince, Haiti — were unable to attend the ceremony and received their palliums at home.
In addition to Archbishops García-Siller and Gomez, those receiving the pallium included Archbishops Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, and Gerald Lacroix of Quebec.
Afterward, at a reception for well-wishers, the U.S. archbishops spoke about the deeper meaning of the Mass. Archbishop Sartain, who came to Rome with nearly 500 pilgrims, said the pallium liturgy was “a wonderful expression of our unity together — first of all with the Holy Father, and through the Holy Father with the apostolic mission of preaching the Gospel everywhere in the world.”
Archbishop Coakley, noting that the pallium is made of wool, said it symbolized a pastoral challenge.
“It’s a sign of the Good Shepherd, being charged with carrying and caring for the sheep, as Christ the Good Shepherd would carry the lost and forsaken sheep to lead them back to the fold,” he said. “The Lord entrusted care of the flock to Peter — and Peter, today in this ceremony, in a very visible and symbolic way, entrusts to each of us some share of that burden.”
Archbishop Garcia-Siller said the pope’s words rightly underlined the joyful task of building unity in the church, adding: “I hope I will be an instrument of the unity that Jesus wanted.” He said that when the pope laid the pallium on his shoulders, he told the pope of this desire for unity.
“The pope responded, ‘San Antonio, Texas, yes!’ Few words, but very meaningful,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez, in Rome with about 400 pilgrims, said he’s been sharing the excitement of the events with people back home on a Facebook page.
“I think a lot of people have been following it, and it’s been a wonderful experience for me, using the modern means of communication to be in touch with the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” he said.
Among the U.S. pilgrims who traveled to Rome were Edward and Virginia Espinoza. They came for Archbishop Garcia-Siller, whom they met when he was a priest in Oxnard, Calif. They described him as a people person and a great speaker, whose homilies are “second to none.”
“He treats everyone as the most important person in the world,” Virginia Espinoza said before the start of the Mass in St. Peter’s.
Speaking at his noon blessing after the Mass, Pope Benedict thanked Catholics around the world for the prayers they offered on the occasion of his 60th anniversary as a priest. At the Vatican’s request, church communities around the world joined in 60 hours of eucharistic adoration to mark the anniversary.
The Vatican is studying a possible document on the relationship of clergy and laity, which touches on the sensitive issue of the administration of the church’s goods, Vatican sources said.
The sources denied an Italian report that the document will issue instructions on the reorganization of U.S. dioceses that face financial pressures in the wake of the sex abuse scandals — in particular regarding parish closings.
The sources, who spoke to Catholic News Service June 28, said the document under preparation only marginally touches on the topic of parish closings and, if published, will be directed at the universal church. The form of the document has not yet been determined; it may be an instruction or a less formal circular letter, they said.
“The main topic here is the respect of norms regarding the nature of the priesthood in collaboration with laypeople, especially as it is affected by the restructuring of parish life,” said one source familiar with the draft document.
“In some countries, new forms of parish structures have been created in which the priestly ministry appears weakened — in practice, the priest’s role risks being reduced to that of a celebrant of the sacraments, while teams of laypeople are put in charge of management. But the office of governing is part of the priestly ministry,” he said.
The preparation of the document is being guided by the Congregation for Clergy because it has competence over matters pertaining to the administration of ecclesiastical goods. In that sense, the sources said, the document will touch on the matter of parish closings, which often involve the loss or redistribution of the church’s assets and properties.
In the United States, parish closings have sometimes prompted protests among the faithful. In several recent cases, the Vatican has upheld mergers of parishes but said that church buildings that were closed must be reopened and “used in some manner as determined by the bishop.”
Vatican officials have privately expressed reservations about some of the parish closings and the way they were handled.
One Vatican official said, however, that the document under consideration would not seek to emit specific norms for the United States.
“If that were the purpose, we would have talked to the (U.S.) bishops’ conference,” he said.
“The focus of this study is much wider. In the United States, there is the issue of parish closings. In Europe, there are other problems tied to a lack of clergy. The situations are diverse, and the Holy See wants to give a universal response,” he said.
The sources said the clergy congregation had been studying these issues for several years. They said it was still too early to say when — or if — a document would be published.
The German Embassy withdrew a pair of German volunteers from a Catholic-run migrant shelter in the northern city of Saltillo after one of the youths was interrogated and threatened by armed individuals.
Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo told Catholic News Service the volunteer had left the Belen Inn of the Migrants shelter with several guests to run an errand, but was interrogated by individuals resembling police officers, who arrived in a vehicle with no plates.
“They questioned how many migrants the shelter receives, what they were doing there, etc.,” Bishop Vera said in a Catholic News Service report.
The volunteers worked in the Saltillo facility through Internationaler Bund, a German program for sending young people on international social service programs, said shelter director Alberto Xicotencatl.
They departed Saltillo June 24 after the German Embassy deemed the location too dangerous, he said, adding Internationaler Bund volunteers had worked in the Belen shelter for six years.
The hostilities marked the latest aggression against workers in Catholic-run migrant shelters for their work keeping the thousands of undocumented Central Americans traveling through Mexico from falling into the hands of kidnapping gangs linked to drug cartels and organized criminal groups such as Los Zetas and the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
Other aggressions have taken place earlier this year at shelters along the border with Texas, Xicotencatl said.
Criminal groups kidnapped 11,333 undocumented migrants during a six-month period of 2010, the National Human Rights Commission said in a report released earlier this year. Public officials, the report said, were frequently complicit.
“We’ve come to the point in which making a complaint (to the police) is more dangerous than doing nothing,” Xicotencatl said of the situation for shelters in the border region.
Bishop Vera and Xicotencatl said the Saltillo incident took place in an area where the state police have been ordered to provide 24-hour vigilance — and at a time when no officers were present.
“The problem isn’t so much the threats, rather the absence of security from the state government,” Xicotencatl said.
Pope Benedict XVI called for emergency assistance to thousands of people fleeing the violence and civil strife in North Africa and the Middle East, and he appealed to nations to explore “every possible form of mediation” to bring an end to the conflicts.
He asked the Vatican’s coordinating body of church funding agencies for Eastern Catholic churches to “do everything possible” to help the minority Christian populations remain in the region.
The pope’s appeal came during a meeting June 24 with the Vatican coordinating body, known by its Italian acronym ROACO. The ROACO assembly was holding its annual general meeting at the Vatican.
Participants were discussing the changes taking place in North Africa and the Middle East as well as how bishops were following up on the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in 2010.
The pope said the region of North Africa and the Middle East “is so important for world peace and stability” and he said the events unfolding there were “a source of anxiety throughout the world.”
He said his thoughts and prayers were with all those “who are suffering and to those who are trying desperately to escape,” often without hope.
“I pray that the necessary emergency assistance will be forthcoming, but above all I pray that every possible form of mediation will be explored, so that violence may cease and social harmony and peaceful coexistence may everywhere be restored, with respect for the rights of individuals as well as communities,” the pope said.
He called for “fervent prayer and reflection” so that the church may be able to “read the signs emerging from the present season of toil and tears.”
ROACO must continue to support the minority Christians in North Africa and the Middle East as well as reach out to government authorities “to ensure that the priests and Christian faithful can remain in the East where they were born, not as foreigners, but as citizens who bear witness to Jesus Christ,” he said.
The pope called for religious freedom in the region, saying all Christians “must be recognized as having equal dignity and true freedom.”
Christians in the East also “are called today to promote, without distinction, the good of all humanity,” the pope said in a Catholic News Service report.
Carolyn Y. Woo, dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, has been named president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services.
Woo, 57, will succeed Ken Hackett, who is retiring after 18 years as head of the bishops’ international relief and development agency.
She will begin the job Jan. 1.
“Dr. Woo is a woman of deep faith with a strong commitment to the mission of the church,” Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, of Tucson, Ariz., chairman of the CRS board of directors, said in a statement from the Baltimore-based agency. “She will bring exceptional abilities and gifts to the task of serving the poor around the world in the name of Catholics throughout the United States.”
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Woo served on the CRS board of directors from 2004 until 2010 and traveled to observe the agency’s program in Africa and Asia, including Banda Aceh, Indonesia, soon after the Indian Ocean tsunami.
She immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University in Indiana, where she received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. She held various positions at Purdue, ultimately serving as associate executive vice president for academic affairs.
Her teaching and research interests include corporate and competitive strategy, entrepreneurship, management of innovation and change and organizational systems.
Bishop Kicanas praised Hackett’s leadership of the agency since 1993.
Hackett said in a statement that he had the chance to work with Woo as a board member and appreciated her “keen sense of the critical issues and decisions that faces us institutionally.”
“Her powerful intellect and insight combined with a profound faith and an abiding compassion will equip her well to lead CRS as it faces the challenges ahead,” he added in a Catholic News Service report.
Woo and her husband, David Bartkus, live in South Bend, Ind.
Many news stories about the recently released report on “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” tried — and failed — to capture its complex findings in a sound bite, according to the principal investigator for the study.
Karen Terry of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York said researchers who prepared the report have received “malicious and even threatening calls and letters” from some people who criticized the findings based on overly simplistic and sometimes factually inaccurate news reports.
Writing June 23 in The Crime Report, an online publication of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay and the Criminal Justice Journalists organization, Terry said some media wrongly said the report attributed the clergy sex abuse crisis to social attitudes attributed to Woodstock or the “swinging ‘60s.”
Instead the report concluded that “the factors associated with the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church were complex,” she said in a Catholic News Service report.
“Another fallacy contained in the early media reports included the ‘fact’ that we did not address the problematic actions of the bishops,” Terry wrote. “Critics suggested that since we relied only on data from the dioceses, the bishops influenced the study findings.”
But she said the data in the report came from “seven unique sources — a fact overlooked in most media reports. The data were derived from bishops and priests, victim assistance coordinators, victim advocates, survivors, clinicians, seminaries, historical and court documents.”
Noting that the study was commissioned by the lay-led National Review Board and not by the bishops, Terry said “the bishops did not influence our findings in any way.” She added that she is not Catholic and has never had any personal ties to the Catholic Church.
The John Jay investigator expressed concern that “the one-dimensional headlines have obscured some of the healthy responses” to the report’s findings.
Among these Terry cited serious discussions among academics about the response to sex abuse, actions by the Vatican and the National Review Board to improve current policies to prevent child sex abuse and a “strong and broadly based commitment to address the gaps in current policies of prevention and oversight that allowed these unhealthy patterns of abuse to continue for so long in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
“These should not be overlooked,” she said.
Japanese bishops have decided to boost church support for recovery and reconstruction efforts in the two dioceses most severely affected by March’s massive earthquake.
Developed during the bishops’ June 13-17 plenary assembly, the aid package calls for the country’s remaining 14 dioceses to participate in reconstruction assistance for the church in the Sendai and Saitama dioceses, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.
The decision formalizes a policy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan in effect since late May of having a coordinated nationwide earthquake relief effort within the church.
The bishops’ conference has established an Office for Reconstruction Assistance to coordinate communication with the various ecclesiastical provinces, religious orders and mission societies in the region.
Financial assistance will be spread over three years beginning this year. The bishops’ conference will send $373,000 annually to the Sendai Diocese. The Saitama Diocese will receive about $124,300 per year.
Sendai and Saitama also will be exempt from their normal contributions to the bishops’ conference for three years. The remaining 14 dioceses are being asked to make up the shortfall of funds to support the conference’s operation.
The bishops also agreed to facilitate the assignment of priests from around Japan to the Sendai region. The country’s three archbishops will oversee Japan’s ecclesiastical provinces and work with the Japanese Conference of Major Superiors to form a “support desk,” which will be available for consultation on clergy assignments.
Many pro-life faculty on college campuses in the United States and Canada have experienced a strong sense of isolation and disrespect for their views, said the newly installed president of University Faculty for Life.
They also often are denied university resources that are commonly available to other faculty and some have experienced out-of-hand rejection or little review of their articles or books that take the pro-life perspective, said Teresa Collett.
Modern academia is “very skeptical” of claims about objective truth, so young faculty in particular are limited in defending or even exploring the idea that law should protect the unborn, she added.
Collett, a professor in the School of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, made the comments in an interview with Today’s Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
She was at the University of Notre Dame for the University Faculty for Life annual conference June 10-11. It drew about 100 attendees and featured more than 30 scholarly papers on pro-life topics.
The organization was founded in 1989 by a handful of professors to provide support and fellowship and to foster pro-life scholarship in the face of discrimination they felt at both secular and religious colleges. Today it has more than 250 members in the United States and Canada who represent more than 50 academic disciplines.
“In most institutions, particularly before tenure but even after tenure, the reigning orthodoxy on abortion is enforced by faculty review committees and administrators,” Collett said.
“Writing about abortion is often discouraged pre-tenure as ‘too controversial’ and after tenure as a distraction from the faculty member’s established area of scholarship,” she continued. “For the courageous faculty member who wants to explore these issues, having a community of like-minded scholars to collaborate with is critical.”
One conference speaker was John Breen, professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He presented a paper on the claim that support for the unborn is intrinsically religious and that to insist on the right to life of the unborn is to impose religion on others. That claim is “a joke,” he argued, because it is anti-intellectual, playing on a long history of anti-Catholicism as well as fears of an American theocracy.
People who use the religion argument don’t want to have a serious conversation and are attempting to win an argument without actually having an argument, he said.
Ryan MacPherson, professor of history at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn., encouraged University Faculty for Life members to forward the pro-life cause through social media with his talk on “Facebooking for Life in a Wiki World of Tweeting YouTubes: How LinkedIn Pro-Life Scholars Can Engage a Blogger Audience through Social Media.”
Patrick Tully, professor of philosophy at Scranton University, proposed what he believes to be the best moral solution to the dilemma of what to do about the hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos who have been abandoned by their parents, or whose parents do not plan to have more children.
He suggested that rather than leaving the embryos in a permanent state of suspension or allowing them to be destroyed in research, they should be thawed and allowed to die with the dignity of any other human being.
The conference was hosted by the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture, the Notre Dame Chapter of University Faculty for Life and the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life. The conference was supported by a major grant from Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
Across the state from the more publicized Wallow fire, a second wind-whipped wildfire forced thousands of people in southern Arizona to evacuate their homes and destroyed a Marian shrine.
Just a fraction of the size of the enormous Wallow fire farther northeast that had burned more than 511,000 acres as of June 20, the fast-moving Monument fire in the Chiricahua Mountains south of Sierra Vista had left more than 27,00 acres and about 50 homes in ashes.
More than 10,000 people were evacuated June 29 from the southern subdivisions of Sierra Vista, a city of about 43,000 adjacent to the Army’s Fort Huachuca. Meanwhile, Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas celebrated Mass at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista June 18, leading the community in prayers for the firefighters. He also reminded the congregation packed into the church that God’s mercy and love can be seen in times of crisis in the way people step up to help those in need.
Bishop Kicanas also visited two shelters in Sierra Vista for evacuees, accompanied by Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew. Father Adolf told the New Catholic Vision, newspaper of the Diocese of Tucson, that “volunteers were everywhere. People have been bringing food, clothes, blankets and pillows. … Kennels have been set up for displaced animals. The whole community has come together in support of the people who have lost homes and animals.”
Father Adolf had taken in the tabernacle and sacred vessels from Our Lady of the Sierras Marian Shrine, a hillside chapel and prayer spaces built by Jerry and Pat Chouinard in Hereford, south of Sierra Vista, as a place of prayer and comfort. The rock walls of the shrine survived the fire that blazed across the hill a few days after it started June 12. But the shrine’s wooden roof and interior were destroyed, as were the Chouinards’ home on the property, the stations of the cross, a prayer grotto, a prayer house and a guest house.
Bishop Kicanas said the fire turned the chapel’s rock walls into a blast furnace. “The heat (was) so intense that the tabernacle was left scorched, the pyx and ciborium blackened and twisted and barely recognizable.”
A note on the webpage of the shrine said the Couinards plan to rebuild. It was opened by the couple in 1998 as a tribute to Mary after they returned from a visit to Medjugorge, a popular pilgrimage site in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina that is believed to be the scene of Marian apparitions. A 75-foot Celtic cross, a 31-foot statue of Our Lady of the Sierras, both made of concrete, and other marble statues around the shrine grounds survived the blaze.