Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Lawrence Persico, 61, the vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, as the new bishop of Erie, Pennsylvania, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Donald Trautman, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Erie.
The appointment and resignation were publicized in Washington, July 31, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Lawrence Persico was born Nov. 21, 1950, in Monessen, Penn., to the late John B. Persico and Helen Gush Persico. He attended St. Joseph Hall High School in Greensburg (1965-1969), the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ken. (1969-1973), and St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Penn. (1973-1977). He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Greensburg on April 30, 1977. He completed a licentiate in canon law at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington in 1982.
Following ordination, he served as associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Irwin, Penn. (1977-1980), assistant chancellor and chaplain of Assumption Hall in Greensburg (1983-1984), and vice chancellor of the Diocese of Greensburg (1984-1989).
Bishop-elect Persico has served a pastor of St. James Parish in New Alexandria, Penn., since 1984, chancellor of the diocese since 1989, and vicar general since 2005. He was appointed to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference in 1998 and elected its vice president in 2006. He was named a prelate of honor in 2005 and invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 2010.
Donald Trautman was born June 24, 1936, in Buffalo, N.Y. He studied at Our Lady of the Angels Seminary at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and the University of Innsbruck, Austria, where he completed a licentiate in dogma in 1962. He studied semitic languages at CUA from 1963-1964 and earned a doctorate in Scripture and dogma from St. Thomas Aquinas University in Rome in 1966. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo on April 7, 1962, and ordained an auxiliary bishop of Buffalo on April 16, 1985. Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Erie on June 12, 1990. He was installed July 16 of that year.
The Diocese of Erie has 855,252 persons, with 221,550, or 26 percent, of them Catholic. It covers 13 counties, spanning 9,936 square miles in northwest Pennsylvania.
Pope Benedict XVI called for an immediate halt to “all violence and shedding of blood” in Syria during his weekly Angelus address on Sunday.
“I ask God to give the wisdom of the heart, especially for those who have the greatest responsibilities, so that no effort is spared in the quest for peace, including the international community, through dialogue and reconciliation, for a proper political settlement of the conflict,” said the Pope to pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo July 29.
His comments come as government forces and rebels battle for control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The armed revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011 and has since claimed over 10,000 lives according to latest U.N. estimates. Opposition forces claim the true figure is nearer to 20,000.
The pope said that he has been following events “with concern” for the “growing and tragic episodes of violence in Syria” which have created a “sad sequence of deaths and injuries among civilians.” He also lamented the large number of internally displaced people and refugees who have moved to neighboring countries.
He called for humanitarian assistance to be provided to those in need and he assured those suffering of his prayers.
The situation in Syria has been a consistent feature of Pope Benedict’s comments in recent months. In July he expressed a fear that the internal conflict “risks becoming a generalized conflict which would have highly negative consequences for the country and the entire region.”
In June he called upon the international community to “spare no efforts to resolve this crisis through dialogue and reconciliation.”
Earlier in his Angelus address, Pope Benedict reflected on Sunday’s gospel in which St. John recounted Christ’s feeding of the five thousand by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Pope described the episode as “a sign of God’s immeasurable providence in the Eucharist.”
“Strengthened by that sacrifice, may we always work for the spiritual nourishment of our brethren, not forgetting the poor and needy,” he said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster reminded Olympians this afternoon that the deepest meaning of sporting achievement is giving “glory to their maker.”
“We will see many fine sports men and women use their bodies, their minds and their spirits in the quest for glory. But the message of the Gospel goes deeper. It reminds us, vividly, that our bodies are for the glory of God,” Archbishop Nichols said at a July 28 Mass to give thanks for the London Olympics.
“Indeed our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. This does not detract from that physical achievement of sport, with its beauty, symmetry, harnessing of speed, finesse and power. Rather it enhances those achievements and gives them their deepest purpose — that of giving glory to their Maker,” he said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
The special Mass at London’s Westminster Cathedral came less than 24-hours after the official opening of the 30th Olympiad in the city’s east end. During the next two weeks the English capital will play host to over 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries.
Archbishop Nichols praised the Olympic Games for holding up “high ideals of fairness in competition, of friendship between adversaries, of individual achievement and national pride.” He hoped these ideals would be achieved during the London event, despite the “huge pressures of world attention, corporate investment and political prestige.”
Over the past months the Catholic Church in England & Wales has launched various initiatives related to the Olympic Games.
The 100 Days for Peace project campaigned for an “Olympic truce” between warring nations for the duration of the games. It also encouraged schoolchildren “to train for peace,” just as athletes train for events.
“The classic virtues of temperance, fortitude, justice and courage were explored as the foundation of true human achievement, whether in citizenship or sport,” Archbishop Nichols said of the project.
Meanwhile, the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, which was launched by Pope Benedict XVI during his 2010 visit to London, has been attempting to “build spiritual character through excellence in sporting skills and fitness.”
Archbishop Nichols said this would be the key project “through which our Catholic community can help our society build a legacy worthy of these Games.”
He concluded by asking God to bless all those participating and attending the Olympic Games. “Bless all who take part in them. Keep us safe. Bless alike our joys and our disappointments,” he said.
“Teach us, in these weeks ahead, to thank you for all your gifts and to give a generous welcome to all, especially those most in need. Then, indeed, we know you, the one true God, in the glory of all your creation.”
Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, California, 56, archbishop of San Francisco, and accepted the resignation of Archbishop George H. Niederauer, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
The appointment and resignation were publicized in Washington, July 27, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Salvatore Joseph Cordileone was born June 5, 1956, in San Diego. He studied at St. Francis Seminary, San Diego, and North American College and Gregorian University, Rome. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of San Diego on July 9, 1982 and pursued doctoral studies in canon law in Rome from 1985-1989. From 1985-1991, he served as an official of the Tribunal of the Diocese of San Diego. From 1989-1991, he served a secretary to the diocesan bishop, and from 1991-1995, he served as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Calexico, California.
From 1995-2002, he served as an official of the Supreme Tribunal of the Signatura, Rome, the Church’s highest juridical body under the pope. In 1999, he was named a monsignor.
On July 5, 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of San Diego. He was ordained a bishop on August 21 of that year. On March 23, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Oakland. Archbishop-designate Cordileone is currently chairman of the Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a post he has held since January 2011.
George Hugh Niederauer was born June 14, 1936, in Los Angeles. He studied at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, and The Catholic University of America in Washington. He earned advanced degrees in English literature from Loyola University of Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on April 30, 1962, and ordained bishop of Salt Lake City on January 25, 1995. On December 15, 2005, he was appointed archbishop of San Francisco.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco has 1,761,000 persons, with 432,163, or 25 percent, of them Catholic. It covers 1,012 square miles in southern California.
Catholics in England have created an Olympic Cross to help reach out to Olympians and attendees of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“We wanted to create a keepsake that symbolizes everything the games truly represent, something we could then pass on to future Olympic host nations,” explained James Parker, Catholic executive coordinator for the 2012 Games.
“As Christians our lives mean nothing without the Cross and so this seemed to be the most suitable object to commission for ourselves and as a future gift to others.”
The cross will stand at the Joshua Camp, an international Catholic Olympic gathering to be held in East London from Aug. 1-13, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales reported. The camp will provide hospitality, organize service projects and create a Catholic presence to foster spiritual growth and evangelization.
Organizers have described the camp as “Olympic World Youth Day.”
Father Simon Penhalagan, president of the Sion Community, blessed the cross in the presence of young Joshua Camp volunteers from around the world.
The Olympic cross was specially commissioned for the 2012 London Games. Artist Jon Cornwall, from the Walsingham House retreat center in Essex, designed and created the work.
Cornwall said he used 12 different types of wood from around the world to represent the 12 disciples. The wood making up the three-tiered base of the Cross includes three types chosen to symbolize the virtues of faith, hope and love.
Father Penhalagan said there is a “growing affection” for the Olympic Cross among those preparing for the Joshua Camp.
“I am confident that those who will travel across the globe to be with us in London next week will also come to honor this Cross and in so doing will fall more in love with Christ,” he said in a Catholic News Agency report.
Parker said the Joshua Camp could become a model for how to combine sports and spirituality at future global sporting events.
“This initiative is a powerful response to Pope Benedict’s call to find ways to draw modern hearts and minds to Christ,” he said.
The Olympic Cross will remain at the Joshua Camp throughout the Olympic Games.
After the games, the cross could head to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games or it could head to Brazil for the 2013 World Youth Day, the 2014 Football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As they consider legislation that addresses deficits and spending, Congress should extend “tax credits that help low-income families live in dignity,” said the bishop who chairs the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“Poverty in this country is historically high and growing. Currently over 46 million Americans live in poverty; over 16 million of them are children. In America today, the younger a person is, the more likely they are to live in poverty,” wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California in a July 24 letter to Congress. “Low-income tax credits are pro-work, pro-family, and some of the most effective antipoverty programs in our nation.”
Bishop Blaire noted that the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable Child Tax Credit “lift millions of American families out of poverty and help them live in dignity and with greater economic security.”
Reiterating a point from earlier letters to Congress, he said that a just framework for spending cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons and that it would be unjust not to renew tax cuts for the working poor while addressing tax cuts for middle class and wealthy Americans. He asked that Congress “maintain and strengthen the bi-partisan commitment to assist those working families who struggle the most in these difficult economic times.”
“I urge you to protect low-income tax credits that help American workers escape poverty and raise their children in dignity,” Bishop Blaire wrote.
The full text of Bishop Blaire’s letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/letter-on-tax-credits-senate-2012-07-25.pdf
The Catholic Church in England and Wales will celebrate special Masses to open the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games, which begin on July 27.
James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games, said many past Olympians and sports professionals from across the world and the London area are Catholics who “take in the thrill of the games.”
“These men and women better than most know the importance of keeping God firmly positioned within their sporting journey,” he said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
“They are being invited to join the rest of the Catholic community in giving thanks to God for the many opportunities that the Games present not only to our nation but to the whole world at this time.”
A July 28 Mass at Westminster Cathedral will celebrate the start of the 30th Olympic Games.
A Mass for the start of the 14th Paralympic Games will take place at St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark on Sept. 8.
The organizers ask attendees to be aware that transportation is likely to be difficult, especially around Westminster Cathedral during the Olympic Games.
The archbishops of Westminster and Southwark and the Bishop of Brentwood will be present at the Masses. Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the apostolic nuncio to England and Wales, will attend the Olympic Mass, as will Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nievez of Puerto Rico.
Neither Mass requires a ticket and there will be no reserved seats.
Parker said the Catholic bishops hope to see people from many different cultures in attendance and have asked those who can to consider coming in their national dress.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has created the Catholic 2012 Office to reach out to attendees of the games.
Invitations to the Mass can be downloaded from the website http://www.Catholic2012.com.
The pastor of an Aurora parish mourning the death of one of their own in a July 20 mass shooting, reassured parishioners of the hope they can find in Christ — even in the darkest times.
“The sun rises in the east,” said Father Terry Kissell of St. Michael the Archangel Parish during Mass July 22, referencing Aurora’s location east of Denver.
“Though there is darkness and confusion and pain, we can’t forget that there will come a new day, a new dawn when there will be no more suffering, no more tears and no more sadness.”
Parishioner Alex Sullivan, 27, was one of twelve victims killed inside a nearby movie theater last Thursday during the midnight premiere of the newest Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Sullivan was confirmed as an adult last year at St. Michael’s. He was also married last year and would have celebrated his one-year anniversary July 22.
Parishioner Jimmy Piralla went through the RCIA program with Sullivan last year and was visibly shaken by the news of his death.
“It really makes you appreciate your family members and your loved ones,” Piralla said in a Catholic News Agency interview.
He said his friend’s death also makes him appreciate the choice he made to become Catholic.
“It just affirms to me that Christ was calling Alex, because he was confirmed last year,” Piralla said. “It makes me even more sure that the choices I’ve made to become Catholic were the right decisions.”
At a July 22 Mass for youth at Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora, Deacon John Thunblom encouraged parishioners to forgive the gunman.
“Don’t harbor hatred in your heart,” he said. “A very terrible thing has happened. We will overcome it. We will do it with prayer…with love…with kindness.”
Pastor of the parish Father Martin Lolly also told parishioners gathered at the 5 p.m. Mass that prayer will heal those struggling, especially the family of parishioner Alexander Jonathan (A.J.) Boik, 18, who was killed in the movie theater.
“We just have to believe in the power of prayer individually and collectively,” Father Lolly said. “We don’t have to deal with this alone…we can really lean on one another and take comfort and strength from one another.”
Parishioner Charly Butterworth, 16, said she came to the youth Mass to find strength and support while trying to cope with the massacre she personally witnessed.
Butterworth said she was sitting in the fourth row of Theater 9 with her brother and her friend when the gunman “came in from behind the screen.” She said she thought it was a special effect for the midnight showing.
“Then I saw him throw something that was on fire,” she said, citing a tear gas canister the gunman threw into the crowd before shooting at random.
Although Butterworth, her brother and friend were able to escape unscathed, she says she suffers from nightmares and has found it difficult to get a handle on her experience.
“That’s why I came to church today,” she said. “I needed to go to church to see my friends and go to Mass.”
After the Mass, Father Lolly embraced Butterworth and asked her how she was doing.
“There are no rules for responding or reacting or dealing with these kinds of situations,” Father Lolly said during the Mass. “Don’t feel like you have to deal with (your emotions) alone. We are here for you.”
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley mourned with the Denver community after a gunman opened fire in a local movie theater on July 20, killing 12 and wounding 50.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters cast into that darkness. They do not stand alone. As Catholic bishops, we ‘weep with those who weep,’” they said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
“We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to those impacted by this evil act.”
At a packed midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at Century Movie Theater in the eastern suburb of Aurora, Colo., a man identified as James Holmes, 24, entered the front of the theater and set off what appeared to be a noxious canister of gas.
Clad in a gas mask and armed with a shotgun, a rifle, and two handguns, Holmes began shooting at random. Stunned moviegoers, many of whom initially thought the noise was part of the show, began to flee as Holmes ascended the aisle.
According to Aurora Police, Holmes was apprehended outside the theater at 12:30 a.m., shortly after the attack, and taken into custody.
In their statement released Friday morning, Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Conley prayed for the conversion of the “perpetrator of this terrible crime.”
“Evil ruled his heart last night,” they wrote. “Only Jesus Christ can overcome the darkness of such evil.”
The mass shooting has been the worst in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre, which occurred in Littleton in April of 1999. Twelve students and a teacher were killed and 26 others wounded after teenage gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire, before killing themselves.
Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Conley stressed that the Archdiocese of Denver “stands ready to assist the victims of this tragedy, and our community,” and noted that the Regina Caeli Counseling Services of Catholic Charities will “offer counseling over the next few weeks to those who need it.”
“We look for opportunities to pray with our community. And we continue to work to support families and communities in forming people of peace.”
The two bishops offered prayers especially for those who were killed, adding that they “commend their souls, and their families and friends, to God’s enduring love.”
“For those who were wounded — physically, emotionally, and spiritually, our hope is in their recovery and renewal,” they said.
“To them we offer our prayers, our ears to listen, and our hearts to love. The road to recovery may be long, but in hope we are granted the gift of new life.”
Elected officials at both the national and local levels have voiced grief and promised prayers and support after a shooting in Colorado left at least 12 people dead and dozens more wounded.
“It is beyond the power of words to fully express our sorrow this morning,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “Our prayers and condolences go first to the families of those killed, and we share the grief of everyone affected by this senseless event.”
“Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis,” the governor said, according to a Catholic News Agency report. “This one of those times.”
Early on the morning of July 20, during the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” a gunman entered Century Movie Theater in Aurora, Colo. According to reports, the man wore a gas mask and released at least one canister containing noxious gas before shooting members of the crowd.
The suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, has been arrested. Current reports indicate that at least 12 individuals were killed and about 50 more were wounded in the incident.
As the deadliest mass shooting since the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, the July 20 event generated national concern.
President Barack Obama said that he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the shooting.
“All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come,” the president said.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that he and his wife, Ann, are “praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief.”
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said that his staff was offering support to legal and medical officials as they responded to the tragedy.
“This was a horrible, senseless and abhorrent act,” the senator said. “My family and I are shocked and deeply saddened this morning and our hearts are with the victims and their families.”
Numerous local officials also issued statements offering support, condolences and prayers for all those affected by the shooting.
State Rep. Rhonda Fields announced a 7 p.m. prayer vigil at the Aurora Municipal building. She welcomed people from surrounding areas to join her in praying for the victims and helping to support “the families, friends and community members whom have been impacted.”