An American priest was attacked and robbed in the center of Katmandu, Nepal, as he made his way back to Assumption Church.
Spiritan Father William Headley, who is in his 70s, was struck from behind and robbed of his mobile phone, money and other personal effects as he approached the priest’s residence next to the church Oct. 30, said Father Pius Perumana, an official of the Nepalese church.
“He had gone for dinner after the Sunday evening Mass. His companion or companions must have dropped him off near the church,” Father Perumana told the Asian church news agency UCA News.
Passers-by found Father Headley lying unconscious with a gaping head wound and brought him to the church, Father Perumana said.
Police were called and the injured priest was taken to hospital. He has since been released with several stitches to his head and mouth, Father Perumana said, adding that doctors had instructed that his condition be closely monitored for 24 hours.
Police believe the motive behind the attack could be money, Father Perumana said.
Drug addicts are known to frequent some of the narrow lanes close to Assumption Church, he added.
Father Headley formerly worked with Catholic Relief Services and was founding dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego.
Katmandu, considered a very safe place just a decade ago, has seen a rise in crime in recent years as its population grows rapidly, stated a Catholic News Service report.
The Archdiocese of Washington marked the first feast day of Blessed John Paul II in a special way, as Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl dedicated the archdiocese’s new Blessed John Paul II Seminary in Washington Oct. 22 with a Mass in the seminary’s chapel.
Cardinal Wuerl prayed that God will “bless this house and all who study here so that the vision, the dream and the legacy of Blessed John Paul II will long continue at the service of God’s holy church.”
He encouraged the seminarians to look to their patron for guidance and inspiration as they study for the priesthood. The first group of 20 seminarians now call Blessed John Paul II Seminary home, and many assisted at the Mass, serving at the altar, singing in the choir and afterward giving tours of the seminary.
Currently, 72 men are studying for the priesthood for the Washington Archdiocese, including the Blessed John Paul II seminarians taking classes at the nearby Catholic University of America. Msgr. Robert Panke, the new seminary’s rector, was among the concelebrants at the dedication Mass.
Recalling Pope John Paul II’s installation Mass on that day 33 years earlier, Cardinal Wuerl, who was present that day, said the new pope’s words still echo today in the hearts of the world’s Catholics: “Open wide your hearts to Christ. Do not be afraid. Christ is with us. He is risen. He is with us.”
The cardinal noted “how appropriate it is that this seminary would bear his name,” the name of a pope who presided over the Catholic Church for 26 years, offering an example of charity and a body of teaching that has inspired generations of Catholics. He said in a special way, the men trained at the seminary named in the late pope’s honor would continue his work.
“The men who will be formed here are preparing to be priests of this millennium, the agents of the Holy Spirit renewing the face of the earth and the voice of the new evangelization calling all people near and far to embrace the Lord Jesus,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his homily.
Tangible reminders of Blessed John Paul’s life and legacy abound at the seminary. His name graces its entranceway, and a portrait of him painted by Pittsburgh artist Robert Daley is displayed at the chapel’s entranceway. Inside the chapel is a liturgical vestment worn by Blessed John Paul when he celebrated Mass.
A reliquary near the chapel’s altar displays a first-class relic, the blood of the late pope that stained the cassock he was wearing when he was shot and critically wounded during an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square May 13, 1981.
During the seminary’s dedication Mass, Cardinal Wuerl said that relic serves as a reminder to present and future priests that it is not always easy to take up Jesus’ cross. Afterward, the cardinal said placing the relic in the reliquary provided the most emotional moment in the Mass for him, as a flood of memories returned to him of the pope who ordained him as a bishop 25 years ago. The cardinal was a concelebrant at the May 1 beatification Mass in Rome for the late pope.
The new chapel also connects the seminarians in a special way with Pope Benedict XVI. An apostolic blessing personally signed by that pontiff is on display at the chapel’s entrance, and the chapel’s altar is the one used by Pope Benedict at his 2008 Mass at Nationals Park in Washington.
The cardinal also noted that the ambo used at the papal Mass is also now in the seminary chapel, and “reminds us that it is the word of God that the priest proclaims, it is the teaching of the Church that he announces. His fidelity is to both, because it is not himself that he preaches but Jesus, and Jesus crucified.”
Another aspect of the new seminary’s chapel that ties the church’s past to its present and future is the altar stone, once used by Archbishop John Carroll, who in 1789 became the first Catholic bishop of the United States.
During the dedication Mass, Cardinal Wuerl placed the stone in the altar, anointed the altar with chrism and incensed the altar. Near the beginning of Mass, the cardinal blessed and sprinkled the altar, chapel and seminary with holy water.
Concelebrants of the dedication Mass included Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington; Washington’s auxiliary bishops; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., a Josephite who is now rector of his order’s seminary in Washington.
The seminary building was originally constructed in 1951 and was first used as a friary for the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. For much of the past decade, the building housed offices for the archdiocese’s Catholic Standard and El Pregonero newspapers, the Office of Youth Ministry and the Consortium of Catholic Academies.
This past fall, the cardinal announced the formation of the new seminary, and the building was extensively renovated to become the new home for the priests and seminarians of Blessed John Paul II Seminary.
The law that bans a British monarch from marrying a Catholic is to be lifted after more than 300 years.
The reforms were announced following the unanimous agreement of the 16 nations that have Queen Elizabeth II as their constitutional head of state.
But they will not include the repeal of a Catholic becoming monarch because allegiance to the pope might conflict with the sovereign’s role as the supreme governor of the Church of England.
The changes will also see the end of the ancient tradition of male primogeniture, the rule under which boys take precedence in the line to the throne over elder sisters.
The reforms will be included in the next British program of parliamentary business to be unveiled in November, while New Zealand will lead a working group to coordinate their implementation in other Commonwealth countries affected.
The announcement, made at an Oct. 28 summit of Commonwealth heads of government in Perth, Australia, was welcomed by Catholic leaders in Britain.
“This will eliminate a point of unjust discrimination against Catholics and will be welcomed not only by Catholics but far more widely,” said Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
“At the same time I fully recognize the importance of the position of the established church (Anglican) in protecting and fostering the role of faith in our society today,” he said in an Oct. 28 statement.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien of St Andrews and Edinburgh, president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, said Oct. 28 that he was pleased to note the process had started to repeal aspects of the laws.
“I look forward to studying the detail of the proposed reforms and their implications in due course,” the cardinal said in a Catholic News Service report.
In recent years there have been 11 attempts to reform the laws on royal succession, but none has made any meaningful progress, partly because of the difficulty in reforming laws across 16 jurisdictions.
But British Prime Minister David Cameron was able to announce the changes after he won the support of the leaders of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St. Lucia and the Bahamas — who would also have to amend their laws.
Announcing the reforms, Cameron, leader of the center-right Conservative Party, said: “Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that church.
“But it is simply wrong they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so,” he said. “After all, they are already quite free to marry someone of any other faith.”
He said the idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man was “at odds with the modern countries that we have become.”
The reforms may entail amendments to nine acts, including the 1689 Bill of Rights, the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1772 Royal Marriages Act.
The laws brought to a close centuries of religious turmoil that began in the 1530s when King Henry VIII took the English Catholic Church into schism so he could nullify his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, his mistress.
They were brought into force following the deposing of openly Catholic King James II, Britain’s last Catholic monarch, in the bloodless coup of 1688, which came to be known as “the Glorious Revolution.”
After James’ Protestant sister Anne, his successor, failed to produce an heir, the throne was given to Electress Sophia of Hanover, Germany, from whom the reigning House of Windsor is descended.
The abolition of the rule of male primogeniture will apply only to the descendants of Prince Charles, but it will mean that if the first-born child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — William and Kate — is a girl, then she will ascend the throne ahead of any younger brothers.
Recent “grave threats to religious liberty” serve as “grim validations” of the U.S. bishops’ decision last June to create a special committee to address those issues, Bishop William C. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., told a House subcommittee Oct. 26.
Bishop Lori, appointed in late September to chair the bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence require government “to acknowledge and protect religious liberty as fundamental, no matter the moral and political trends of the moment.”
But in recent days, he said, “the bishops of the United States have watched with increasing alarm as this great national legacy of religious liberty, so profoundly in harmony with our own teachings, has been subject to ever more frequent assault and ever more rapid erosion.”
In written testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Bishop Lori called for “corrective action by Congress” to address six areas of particular concern:
– Regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in August that would mandate coverage of contraception and sterilization in most private health insurance plans.
– A new requirement by HHS that would require the bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to agree to provide the “full range” of reproductive services, including abortion and contraception, to human trafficking victims and unaccompanied refugee minors.
– The U.S. Agency for International Development’s requirement that Catholic Relief Services and other contractors include condom distribution in their HIV prevention activities and provide contraception in a range of international relief and development programs.
– The Department of Justice’s actions to mischaracterize the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which states that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, as an act of bigotry and to actively attack its constitutionality.
– The Justice Department’s efforts to undermine the “ministerial exception” that exempts religious institutions from some civil laws when it comes to hiring and firing.
– State actions on same-sex marriage that have resulted in Catholic Charities agencies in Illinois being “driven out of the adoption and foster care business” and some county clerks in New York state facing legal action for refusing to participate in same-sex unions.
The bishop called those concerns “only the most recent instances in a broader trend of erosion of religious liberty in the United States.”
“The ultimate root causes of these threats are profound, and lie beyond the scope of this hearing or even this august body to fix,” he said. “But we can — and must — also treat the symptoms immediately, lest the disease spread so quickly that the patient is overcome before the ultimate cure can be formulated and delivered.”
Bishop Lori urged members of the House of Representatives to pass three bills that would “go a long way toward guaranteeing religious liberty and freedom of conscience for religious employers, health insurers and health care providers.” They are the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 361) and the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179).
He also called for a congressional hearing or other investigation into “the illegal conditions that HHS and USAID are placing on religious providers of human services.” He said new statutes might be necessary “to create new conscience protections, but more likely to create private rights of action for those whose rights under the existing protections have been violated.”
“Unfortunately, the authority to enforce the applicable conscience protections now lies principally with the federal agencies that may be violating the protections,” Bishop Lori said.
He urged House members to “resist legislative efforts to repeal” the Defense of Marriage Act, including the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116).
“The religious freedom threats to marriage at the state level may fall beyond the scope of authority of Congress to control — except to the extent that state adoption and foster care services are federally funded,” he said.
Other witnesses at the hearing on “The State of Religious Liberty in the United States” were the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Colby M. May, director and senior counsel of the Washington office of the American Center for Law and Justice, stated Catholic News Service.
A 5,330-pound church bell owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 1889 has been stolen from the grounds of St. Mary’s Cathedral, apparently for the scrap value of its copper.
The bell was reported missing at 11 a.m. Oct. 24. It has been on a concrete slab in a garden in front of the cathedral at Geary Boulevard and Gough Street since 1970.
“We cannot replace this historic and valuable item,” said George Wesolek, director of communications and public policy for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. “Hopefully, the police will recover it, and we can put it back in its rightful place as a memory of the Catholic Church in San Francisco.”
The bell — the size of the Liberty Bell, 62 inches in diameter — was forged by McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore. It was given to the church by a San Rafael man, Duriham Carrigan, who was born in New York in 1839 and died in San Rafael in 1889.
It was placed in the former St. Mary’s Cathedral at Van Ness and O’Farrell Street the year Carrigan died. When that building was destroyed by fire in 1962 the bell was transferred to the site of the new cathedral as a memorial and historical artifact of the previous cathedral.
The estimated replacement value of the bell is $75,000. The current scrap value of copper is approximately $2 to $2.50 a pound. The genuine bell-metal component of the stolen item is 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin.
San Francisco Police Inspector Brian Danker said he is canvassing the neighborhood, asking neighbors if they saw any unusual activity around the cathedral property. He said a hydraulic lift could move the bell.
Copper theft is a plague in the Bay Area, he said. “The worst nightmare going for a contractor in San Francisco or the Bay Area is to make the mistake of going on a three-day weekend. You come back to your job site and see copper has been ripped out of your building,” said Danker.
According to Catholic News Service, the archdiocese is offering a reward in the case.
A team from Caritas offices in Turkey was headed east to assess needs in the region hit by the Oct. 23 earthquake, according to Catholic News Service.
The magnitude 7.2 quake and multiple aftershocks left more than 260 people dead, but the death toll was expected to rise as workers shifted through debris. More than 1,000 people were injured in the quake, which wiped out sections of the city of Van and the town of Ercis.
A statement from Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella Caritas agency based in Rome, said, “Caritas will assess the needs of people whose homes or livelihoods have been impacted by the quake. Access to the area’s villages, where many mud-brick homes have collapsed, may be difficult.”
Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed three saints and said their lives demonstrated that true faith is charity in action.
“These three new saints allowed themselves to be transformed by divine charity,” the pope said at a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 23.
“In different situations and with different gifts, they loved the Lord with all their heart and they loved their neighbor as themselves, in such a way as to become models for all believers,” he said.
All three founded religious orders in the 19th century, working in missionary areas and on behalf of society’s disadvantaged in Europe. The canonizations took place on World Mission Sunday, and the pope said their witness showed that love is at the center of the missionary task.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims filled the square on a splendid fall morning, many carrying holy cards, banners and images of the saints. Tapestries with portraits of the newly canonized hung from the facade of the basilica.
The new saints were:
– St. Guido Maria Conforti, an Italian who founded the Xaverian Foreign Missionary Society, dedicated to the sole purpose of evangelizing non-Christians. He sent missionaries to China in 1899 and personally traveled to China in 1928 to visit the order’s communities.
Plagued by ill health, he also served as a diocesan bishop in Italy for many years, making religious instruction the priority of his pastoral ministry and establishing schools of Christian doctrine in all parishes.
– St. Louis Guanella, the Italian founder the Servants of Charity, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, and the Confraternity of St. Joseph, whose members pledge to pray for the sick and dying. Having worked with young women in northern Italy, he came to Rome and founded an association of prayer for the dying.
“It is impossible to stop as long as there are poor people to be helped,” he would tell his colleagues. In 1912, at the age of 70, he traveled to the United States to work among Italian immigrants in North America.
Pope Benedict, in his homily, called him a “prophet and apostle of charity,” according to Catholic News Service.
– St. Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, a Spanish cordmaker in Salamanca who gathered working women for spiritual encounters in her house-shop. The group became the Servants of St. Joseph, a congregation dedicated to providing a religious and technical education to poor women and protecting them in the workplace.
Her religious did not wear habits and they worked side by side with laywomen in the shop, practices that aroused the resentment of the local clergy. Opposed by the bishop, she was removed as superior of the community and left Salamanca in humiliation; she opened a new foundation in the city of Zamora, where she was welcomed by the bishop. Only in 1941 was she recognized as the foundress of her congregation.
A sung prayer during the Mass proclaimed: “The mission of Bonifacia is not finished: In God she looks after the dignity of the women workers of the world.”
In his sermon, the pope said the lives of the new saints underscored that love is the essence of the Christian message.
“The visible sign that Christians can show the world to witness Christ’s love is love for one’s brothers and sisters,” he said. These saints, he said, demonstrated that when faith is strong, there is a sense of urgency in announcing this love to all.
The liturgy had a U.S. connection: Carrying relics of St. Guanella to the altar was William Glisson, a 30-year-old Pennsylvania man, whose healing after a rollerblading accident nine years ago was accepted by the Vatican as the miracle needed for the saint’s canonization.
Glisson, who had been skating backward without a helmet, hit his head and was in a coma for nine days. Doctors gave him little hope for recovery. A family friend, meanwhile, gave Glisson’s mother two relics of Blessed Guanella, and the prayers began. Glisson recovered unexpectedly and was released from the hospital less than a month after the accident.
The death of Moammar Gadhafi will do nothing to end years of controversy over the Lockerbie bombing, said the priest who served in the Scottish town in 1988.
Father Patrick Keegans, now the administrator of St. Mary Cathedral in Ayr, Scotland, said he regretted that the Libyan dictator was not allowed to live to stand trial for the “atrocities and crimes” he might have committed.
He also said that Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, will take to his grave valuable information about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and knowledge of who was truly culpable of the attack. The bomb that exploded on board the airliner Dec. 21, 1988, killed 270 people, including 189 Americans and 11 people on the ground.
Gadhafi was captured alive Oct. 20 by rebels in a drainage pipe outside the Libyan city of Sirte. He later died, although reports of how and when he died vary.
In an Oct. 21 telephone interview with Catholic News Service, Father Keegans said Gadhafi “must have had information about who was the Lockerbie bomber,” adding that the question of the guilt of the Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the bombing, remained unresolved.
The priest said he would continue to demand a full inquiry into the fairness of al-Megrahi’s 2002 trial. The former Libyan intelligence officer was jailed for a minimum of 27 years.
“We would like the truth of what happened even though Gadhafi has died,” Father Keegans said. “It is very convenient for some governments that Gadhafi has died because they clearly had connections with him that were rather suspect.
“I am talking about the British government and the U.S. government,” he said.
All the “evidence points to the innocence” of al-Megrahi, he added. “There was a verdict (of guilty) but that verdict was very, very suspect, and he and all the victims of Lockerbie deserve a full inquiry into the trial … and a review of all the evidence and other facts that have come to light since then.”
Al-Megrahi, 59, who has maintained his innocence, was released from jail after seven years and returned to Libya in August 2009 on the grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and had just months to live.
But just weeks ago, he was able gave an interview to Reuters news agency from his bedside in Tripoli.
The fact that he is still alive, though very ill, has prompted accusations that he was released in return for lucrative oil contracts for British firms.
In a quiet modification of a traditional format, the Vatican has dropped most of the individual private meetings between Pope Benedict XVI and bishops making their “ad limina” visits to Rome.
The unannounced change was instituted earlier this year, apparently in an effort to reduce the scheduling burden on the 84-year-old pope and to help cut through the backlog of “ad limina” visits, which are supposed to be made every five years by heads of dioceses.
In place of one-on-one meetings, the pope now usually holds more freewheeling sessions with groups of 7-10 bishops at a time, lasting about an hour. That is expected to be the format for U.S. bishops when they begin their “ad limina” visits in early November.
Several bishops who have recently come through Rome on “ad limina” visits had good things to say about the new practice.
“The Holy Father welcomed us, he sat down and made us comfortable, at home and he chatted with us. He said, ‘Now tell me,’ and he listened very attentively and made a comment here or there. At the end, he summed up beautifully what was said,” said Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai, India, who met the pope with a group of eight others in early September.
“It was very spontaneous, a heart-to-heart talk. And that’s what it should be. It was a real sharing between him and us,” the archbishop said.
Australians making their “ad limina” visits in October were also pleased with the format, saying it means the pope does not have to cover the same ground with each bishop.
“The response of the bishops has been universally positive. As a matter of fact, they’ve come back from those meetings really excited by the nature of it and by what’s happened. They think it’s a terrific initiative. And everyone would agree it’s a very good use of the Holy Father’s time,” said Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide.
Archbishop Wilson, as president of the Australian bishops’ conference, did have a one-on-one encounter with Pope Benedict. Some cardinals and archbishops in “ad limina” groups have also met individually with the pope. The new policy has not been spelled out, and officials at the Congregation for Bishops declined comment.
One official involved in setting up papal appointments put it this way: “When the possibility exists, the personal audience is maintained. When instead there are a great number of bishops, they are grouped together in such a way that the pope can see them all.”
Traditionally, the bishop’s private meeting with the pope has been a key moment of the “ad limina” visit. The Vatican’s directory for the pastoral ministry of bishops, for example, emphasizes that while bishops may come to Rome as a group, it is “always the individual bishop” who makes the visit on behalf of his diocese.
“It is the individual bishop who meets the successor of Peter personally and retains the right and the duty to communicate directly with him and the heads of dicasteries (Roman Curia agencies) on all questions concerning his diocesan ministry,” the directory states.
Blessed John Paul II intensified interaction with the bishops during the “ad limina” visits. In addition to the group meeting and individual audiences lasting about 15 minutes each, the late pope celebrated Mass with the bishops in his private chapel and hosted them for lunch, a dozen at a time. Toward the end of his pontificate, the ailing pope had to cut back on those activities and the pace of the visits slowed.
According to Catholic News Service, Pope Benedict did not continue the practice of working lunches and private Masses with the visiting bishops, but during the first five years of his pontificate he met personally with individual bishops.
Meanwhile, the backlog of “ad limina” appointments kept growing. One reason is that the number of bishops in the world has doubled over the last 50 years; the pope would have to meet about 600 bishops each year to put “ad limina” visits back on a five-year track, and Vatican officials have said that’s not going to happen.
As a result, most “ad limina” visits are now made every seven or eight years. U.S. bishops, who will make theirs in 2011-2012, last came in 2004, for example.
This year’s visits have featured countries with large episcopates, including the Philippines and India. So far in 2011, Pope Benedict has met with nearly 300 bishops making “ad limina” visits, either individually or in groups.
The name of the visits comes from the Latin phrase “ad limina apostolorum” (to the thresholds of the Apostles), a reference to the pilgrimage to the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul that the bishops are required to make.
Oblate School of Theology invites all people of good will to meet in Immaculate Conception Chapel on campus at 285 Oblate Drive to pray for peace in the community and throughout the world. The chapel will be open from 7 to 8 p.m., Oct. 26. Representatives from Catholic, Baptist and Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Baha’ism and Hinduism will offer prayers from their religious traditions and for the success of Pope Benedict XVI’s Gathering of World Religions at Assisi, Italy, Oct. 27. The papal event itself is a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s historic gathering of world religious leaders in Assisi in October 1986.
During the commemoration, people may come and go as needed or as their faith tradition demands. A small reception will provide an opportunity for people of differing traditions to meet one another after the service.
Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú will take part in the event. Also participating will be Sarwat Husain, a spokeswoman for the Muslim community; Imam Muhammud of Masjid Bilal; Gloria Urrabazo, representing Our Lady of the Lake University; Dr. Lupita Nath, representing the Hindu faith; Dr. Roozbeh Taeed, representing the Baha’i faith; Father John Mefridge, of St. Ephraim Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Church; and a representative of the Baptist University of the Americas.
“Our hope is to host a microcosm of the Assisi event, calling together the many religious traditions in San Antonio in the hope that we might use our teachings and prayers to establish what our religions call for — unity among all people and peace in our time,” said Dr. Scott Woodward, vice president for academic affairs and dean of OST.