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Army of volunteers provides turkey, all the trimmings for those in need

11/16/2018 - 4:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Arlington Catholic Herald files

By Ann M. Augherton

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Picture the first Thanksgiving: a community coming together, one person bringing the fowl, another the bread, others sharing the fruits of their harvest, all gathering for a meal. The gratitude palpable for a plentiful harvest, for family and friends, for the opportunity to rest, reflect and break bread with others.

For the past 34 years, the Edward Douglass White Knights of Columbus Council in Arlington has hosted Thanksgiving for folks in the community who might need a little help or a little company.

Similar to an Amish barn-raising, the community comes together to provide turkey and all the trimmings, but with a side of organizing buses to pick up the dinner guests, gathering donated paper products and vegetables, and scheduling an army of volunteers to cook, carve and carry the meals to the homebound.

What started with a handful of turkeys and 200 recipients has grown to feeding 2,500 with any number of donated turkeys. Marijo Galvin, Thanksgiving coordinator with her husband, Thom, says "any number" because they never know how many turkeys will show up.

For their 11th year overseeing the effort, they expect about 200 turkeys — fully cooked, unstuffed and at least 20 pounds — to be dropped off at the council home in Arlington from Nov. 19 through Nov. 21. A team of carvers will pull the birds from the huge walk-in freezers and start their work in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.

Only between 200 and 300 diners will come to the council home for the afternoon meal. Hundreds of other meals will be delivered by a team of volunteers. Marijo said a former postal worker has arranged the deliveries by location to facilitate the process. The first delivery goes out at 9 a.m.

"We cover Meals on Wheels clients, Arlington Adult Services and several apartment complexes with low-income residents," Marijo told the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

Runners, another vital team, will pick up the elderly or disabled and bring them to the council home for the big feast, often eating with them, and then driving them home a couple of hours later.

Marijo mentions some of the key players in the community who support this huge effort, including Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, which donates use of its school buses, and the Jhoon Rhee martial arts school, which frees up its vans, and other bus companies that bring guests from two locations in the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network and from a nearby neighborhood.

St. Agnes Church in Arlington is on pie duty this year. Ruth Foster, the volunteer coordinator or "Pie Lady," said she ordered 225 pie tins and an equal number of shallow and deep pie boxes. The tins have been sitting on a table in the narthex of the church waiting for volunteer bakers.

Her goal is to get at least 150 pies back, 120 earmarked for the Knights’ Thanksgiving dinner and 30 for Christ House, an outreach for people in need.

When people tell her that they’ve never made a pie, she tells them to "go to the store, pick up the refrigerated dough, roll it out, follow the directions, make up the stuff, put it in the oven and wait until it comes out."

Ruth’s favorite is pecan pie. Her secret? "The key to a pecan pie is the temperature at which you cook it. It’s a longer process, slower, at a lower temperature." She likens the filling to a custard. "When the center sets up, it’s done."

The night before Thanksgiving, Marijo, her husband and two other volunteers go to a local German bakery, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe in Arlington, to pick up any leftovers, usually breads, pies and desserts. Marijo joked that she thinks the owner bakes too much so they have enough to donate to the Knights.

"Back in the day, the entire community jumped in and tried to do something," said Marijo. That’s where the scene of that first Thanksgiving, legend or legit, calls to mind a spirit of giving and gratefulness.

Marijo said financial donations are also needed to offset the costs of the endeavor, which include the rental of food warmers, and the side dishes, aka the trimmings.

The day wraps up as the pie crumbs are swept from the floor about 6 p.m. Any food leftovers are shared with several local shelters.

Marijo is undaunted at the task ahead. "I love the people. I love talking to the people. They are grateful, but they don’t understand how grateful I am to them for the joy the give me."

She added quickly, "It helps you remember how lucky you are."

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Augherton is managing editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

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Catholic, international aid agencies press for end of war in Yemen

11/16/2018 - 4:06pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yahya Arhb, EPA

By Dale Gavlak

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic and international aid organizations are pressing for an end to Yemen’s worsening war, where the United Nations says one child dies every 10 minutes.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, called Yemen "the world’s worst humanitarian disaster in 100 years." Half of Yemen’s 28 million people are on the brink of starvation and the country is suffering from the worst cholera epidemic in modern history.

"The humanitarian disaster in Yemen is of horrific proportions," Kevin Hartigan of Catholic Relief Services told Catholic News Service, describing the crisis erupting in the impoverished nation at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula which is embroiled in a nearly four-year-old conflict.

"More certainly needs to be done to assist a population that is on the brink of starvation, and we intend to expand our response with the generous support of Catholics in the United States," said Hartigan, the agency’s regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Meanwhile, CRS continues to support its partner, Islamic Relief of Yemen, while working to establish a presence in the country, Hartigan added. Its support has included funding and technical assistance in response to the cholera epidemic and providing emergency relief in the besieged humanitarian port city of Hodeida.

Recent fighting between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels occupying Hodeida and government militias supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates threatens to push the country into a full-blown famine. Up to 85 percent of food passes through the Hodeida port.

"Yemen has become a hell on earth for millions of children," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. More than 400,000 children are starving and another 1.5 million are acutely malnourished and need aid to survive, he said.

"Today every single boy, every single girl in Yemen is facing extremely dire needs," Cappelaere recounted after a visit to children in hospitals there earlier this month.

"We met with Adam, Abdulqudus, Sara, Randa and others. Each time I name them, I see the images clearly of them lying in their beds, Cappelaere recently told reporters. "Some of them (are) supported by their families. Some of them (are) just lying on their own, with hardly anybody to support them."

Aid workers report rising numbers of internally displaced Yemeni civilians. Often they live on breadcrumbs and leaves. Medics have said the number of deaths linked to food-related factors is spiraling.

"We see immense suffering in the faces of children whose young lives have been stunted by malnutrition, and the agony of their parents who can only watch their children waste away," said Giovanna Reda, head of Middle East humanitarian programs for CAFOD, the overseas aid agency of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.

CAFOD was among nine agencies Nov. 14 calling on British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to do more to bring an immediate end to the conflict and to "urge parties to the conflict to end violations against civilians."

Hunt visited Saudi officials Nov.12 urging them not to risk a humanitarian disaster in pursuit of military victory. As many as 150 people had been killed in air raids on Hodeida in the previous 24 hours, according to news reports.

"A comprehensive cease-fire across the country is urgently needed now, to halt the suffering of millions of people," Reda told CNS.

"Humanitarian access is vital to reach vulnerable families on the brink of famine. … Any disruption of (Hodeida) port’s operation will severely affect our ability to get emergency aid to where it is needed most," Reda said.

Signatories to the appeal included CARE International UK, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee and Norwegian Refugee Council.

Pope Francis repeatedly has urged the international community to make every effort to end the Yemeni crisis.

"I’m following with concern the dramatic fortune of the people of Yemen, now extreme following years of conflict," he said in June. "I call for the international community to not withhold efforts and to join all parties involved for negotiations, so the tragic humanitarian situation doesn’t worsen even more."

Washington, however, continues to sell billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia. Until early November, the U.S. also helped to refuel Saudi planes used in bombing raids in Yemen. The U.S. and Great Britain pressed Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the war against the Houthi rebels Nov. 12.

The U.N. reported Oct. 24 that at least 6,660 Yemeni civilians have been killed and 10,560 injured in the war. The fighting and a partial blockade of the Hodeida port have left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid. The cholera outbreak has affected 1.1 million people.


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C.PP.S. candidate is temporarily incorporated

11/16/2018 - 12:24am
Father Jeffrey Kirch, CPPS provincial director, accepts the promise of Greg Evers as his temporary incorporstion (Courtesy Photo)Father Jeffrey Kirch, CPPS provincial director, accepts the promise of Greg Evers as his temporary incorporstion (Courtesy Photo)

Greg Evers is now in advanced formation with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood after his temporary incorporation into the congregation, celebrated on Aug. 18.

“God is constantly calling us – today marks a step forward in Greg’s journey,” said Father Jeffrey Kirch, provincial director, as he welcomed community members, companions, family and friends to the Mass in Assumption Chapel at St. Charles Center.

Evers has completed special formation, during which he spent several months in the C.PP.S. mission in Guatemala; served at Immaculate Conception Church in Celina; and studied with Father Keith Branson. “For me, it felt very natural to be taking the next step in the formation process,” Evers said. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I feel at peace with what I’m doing.

It feels like a confirmation of how I already have been thinking of myself. It feels like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Evers hails from Maria Stein, and grew up in St. Rose Parish, where Missionaries are in ministry. Father Gene Schnipke, the pastor of St. Rose, preached the homily during the Mass.

“A temporary incorporation, in a way, is the same commitment that all of us make, to follow more closely the Lamb of God,” he said. “It’s temporary only because Greg is promising to do this for the next three years, in preparation for what will be a lifelong commitment to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.”

University helps former foster youth, homeless find a new beginning

11/15/2018 - 7:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Brian Barbosa, courtesy University of San Diego

By Denis Grasska

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — The University of San Diego has a message for students who were once in the foster care system, homeless or at risk for homelessness.

"We recognize that things have happened to you in your past," said Cynthia Avery, the Catholic university’s assistant vice president for student life, "but this is a time to rewrite your story."

And the university is ready to assist with those rewrites.

Established in 2012, the Torero Renaissance Scholars program offers comprehensive support specifically to students from the foster care system and those at risk for homelessness. Many public universities have established similar programs in recent years, but USD is among the few Catholic or independent universities to offer one.

Benefits of the program include access to academic tutoring and financial and career counseling; opportunities for internships and mentorships; one or two scheduled social events each month; emergency financial assistance when a car breaks down, a personal laptop computer is lost, or some other unanticipated challenge arises; and regular access to the campus food bank and supply pantry.

A grant from the In-N-Out Burger Foundation has made it possible for Torero Renaissance Scholars to receive financial compensation for summer internships with community partners. One student has been doing scientific research for two years at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Another student has been interning with New Americans Museum, helping to collect oral histories from fellow immigrants.

Potential Torero Renaissance Scholars are typically identified from their financial aid applications and encouraged by the TRS Support Team to sign up for the program.

However, Avery also has received referrals from members of the University of San Diego community, who have informed her about students who were found to be living out of their cars or sleeping in one of the gardens on campus. She has worked to find accommodations for these students.

Avery, who also serves as a court-appointed special advocate, brought her passion for foster youth to campus when she arrived 10 years ago. She quickly discovered that the university didn’t have any programs specifically tailored to this demographic and, recognizing the need for such outreach, laid the groundwork for what would become the Torero Renaissance Scholars program.

"The statistics " are pretty grim for students who emancipate from a foster care system," Avery told The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.

According to the nonprofit Foster Care for Success in 2014, 84 percent of foster teens want to attend college, yet only 20 percent manage to do so and of those only 3 percent go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.

These students lack a stable learning environment, Avery said, and many have attended more than two high schools and sometimes as many as four.

The Torero Renaissance Scholars program’s name references the university’s mascot, the Torero (Spanish for "bullfighter"), but also alludes to the historical epoch that followed the Dark Ages.

Like the Renaissance period, Avery said, the program represents "a new beginning, a rebirth, a time of enlightenment" for its participants.

Since its launch, nearly all of the program’s 20-plus past participants have gone on to receive diplomas from USD. The only exceptions have been the few who have taken medical leaves of absence.

Of the 14 students who are currently enrolled, Avery said, about three-quarters of them are on the honor roll, which means they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Monserrat Lopez, a former Torero Renaissance Scholar, graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in music and a minor in business.

The 23-year-old, who now works for the brokerage firm LPL Financial, is grateful for the sense of solidarity and the practical help afforded by the program.

"It was good to be around other people who were in similar situations," she said, recalling her first meeting with her fellow Torero Renaissance Scholars.

Lopez had been homeless during her high school years. Her father "disappeared for a couple of months" and, because the rent went unpaid, she and her brother had to find someplace else to live.

At first, each sibling found shelter at a friend’s home, sleeping on the couch. But after about three months, they moved into a shelter for homeless teens in downtown San Diego. She continued to live there until her high school graduation and, after starting at the University of San Diego, she moved into campus housing.

"All of these students belong here as members of our community and (they) make us better," Avery said. "These students are some of the most resilient individuals you’ve ever met. Their stories are incredible."

Maria Coleman was homeless when she found out she had been accepted to the university. Her face still lights up as she recalls seeing her status change from "applicant" to "student" on her laptop computer.

It hasn’t been easy for the 38-year-old, a survivor of domestic violence and mother of two teenagers. But with support from the Torero program, she’s on a path to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2020.

In addition to living on campus and interning at the New Americans Museum, she’s doing another internship this fall at U.S. Rep. Susan Davis’ San Diego office and belongs to the rowing team.

"If it wasn’t for the support from the TRS program I don’t know where I’d be," said Coleman. She appreciates meeting regularly with other students in the program and they share experiences. "There’s a sense that we’re in it together and we will make it," she said.

For former foster student Alejandra Lopez-Cuellar, who graduated in 2016, also praises the program, and she especially appreciated that university administrators understood the challenges she was facing.

"Not having to constantly explain my situation" was a big help, said Lopez-Cuellar, who was able to live on campus the summer after her first year at USD.

Wearing the TRS stole at graduation that symbolized how she’d persevered and overcome the odds "was a really proud moment," she recalled.

Over the past two years, she has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in several locations around the country.

"I have learned that I enjoy working with other people and helping them reach their goals, personal or professional," she said.

This fall, she began overseeing the volunteer program for the New York Immigration Coalition in New York City.

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Grasska is assistant editor of The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Event Alert: The Michelangelo Pieta Legacy Mission coming to the Cathedral

11/15/2018 - 4:06pm

An exciting opportunity is being made available at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains – the placement of a Pieta, which will be here for a preview beginning December 8. Save the date and plan to join them for the 11:30 a.m. Mass and unveiling that day. For more information on ArteDivine, click here


Pope meets Israeli president at the Vatican

11/15/2018 - 3:56pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis welcomed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the Vatican Nov. 15 for a private discussion that included the importance of building greater trust between Israelis and Palestinians.

During their 35-minute meeting, they spoke about the importance of mutual trust in negotiations "so as to reach an accord respecting the legitimate aspirations of both peoples," the Vatican said in a statement.

"The hope was expressed that suitable agreements may be reached" also between Israeli authorities and local Catholic communities "in relation to some issues of common interest," it said, adding that the Holy See and the State of Israel would soon celebrate the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations.

Aided by interpreters, the pope and president spoke about "the political and social situation in the region, marked by different conflicts and the consequent humanitarian crises. In this context, the parties highlighted the importance of dialogue between the various religious communities in order to guarantee peaceful coexistence and stability," the statement said.

"Mention was made of the importance of building greater mutual trust in view of the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians so as to reach an accord respecting the legitimate aspirations of both peoples, and of the Jerusalem question, in its religious and human dimension for Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as the importance of safeguarding its identity and vocation as City of Peace."

Exchanging gifts, Rivlin gave Pope Francis a small bas relief replicating the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

According to pool reporters, the president told the pope that the image showed how one could divide the various parts of the city, but also unite it in new ways. The walled Old City is divided into the Jewish quarter, the Armenian quarter, the Christian quarter and the Muslim quarter.

"Jerusalem has been a holy city for the three monotheistic religions for centuries. For the Jewish people, #Jerusalem has been the spiritual center since the days of the First Temple over 3,000 years ago, but it is also a microcosm of our ability to live together," the president tweeted later, adding a photo of the two of them speaking during the gift exchange.

The Vatican consistently has called for a special status for Jerusalem, particularly its Old City, in order to protect and guarantee access to the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

During the meeting, Pope Francis gave Rivlin a large medallion, which the pope described as representing wheat being able to grow in the desert. Pool reporters said the pope told the president he hoped this desert would be transformed from a desert of animosity into a land of friendship.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Rivlin thanked the pope for supporting the fight against anti-Semitism.

"Your absolute condemnation of acts of anti-Semitism and your definition of such acts as anti-Christian are a significant step in the ongoing fight to stamp it out," Rivlin said.

Members of Rivlin’s entourage said they also talked about the controversy between Jerusalem’s city government and the Catholic Church concerning city property taxes.

In early February, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it would begin collecting $186.4 million in property taxes from some 887 church-owned properties that were not houses of prayer. Since then, the Israeli government set up a negotiating team to resolve the dispute.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Precious Blood Missionary ordained a priest

11/15/2018 - 12:54am
Pictured from left are Father Larry Hemmelgarn, provincial director; newly ordained Father Matt Keller; Bishop Joseph Charron, who presided at the June 9 Mass; and Father William Nordenbrock, moderator general. (Courtesy Photo)Pictured from left are Father Larry Hemmelgarn, provincial director; newly ordained Father Matt Keller; Bishop Joseph Charron, who presided at the June 9 Mass; and Father William Nordenbrock, moderator general. (Courtesy Photo)

Father Matthew Keller was ordained to the priesthood on June 9 in his home parish of St. John the Baptist in Maria Stein. Bishop Joseph Charron, a fellow Missionary of the Precious Blood, presided.

Bishop Charron told Father Keller to be fearless in his new role as a priest, and to put all his faith in the God who called him. “God said to Jeremiah, ‘To whomever I send you, you will go. Have no fear.’ Matthew, on your ordination day, have no fear. Keep close to God, and God will stay close to you,” he said. “You are a Missionary of the Precious Blood. You have been chosen to spread the merits of the Precious Blood as part of this community. I ask that the Holy Spirit come down on you in a very powerful way as you go on your missionary journey. With a shepherd’s care, you are to be with the people in good times and difficult times—truly be in their midst as a strong but gentle leader, a true shepherd.”

Father Keller has been serving as a deacon at Dayton’s Region Seven parishes — Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph. He is now the parishes’ parochial vicar. Throughout his years of formation with the Missionaries, Father Keller also served at St. Michael Church in Kalida, Ohio, and the Church of the Resurrection in Cincinnati. He is a graduate of Marion Local High School in Maria Stein; St. Xavier University in Chicago; and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he earned a master of divinity degree.

He presided at his first Mass at St. John the Baptist on June 10. In his homily, he credited his parents and family members for fostering his religious vocation. He also thanked the Missionaries, who minister at the parish and at nearby St. Charles Center, for encouraging him on his path.

In his first homily as a priest, Father Keller said, “On a weekend like this, the temptation is to say ‘It’s all about me.’ . . . What is this weekend really about? Last year before I was ordained a deacon, Father Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S. (the director of advanced formation), gave me some words of wisdom. He said, ‘It’s not all about you. It’s about how God is working through you.’ I am just an instrument through whom God is working. “God called me to the priesthood. But God calls each and every one of us. He doesn’t call each and every one of us to do the same thing. He calls us to do a variety of different things, on different paths and in the various stages of our lives. When each of us responds to our call, we create a beautiful picture of what our church is.”

Cardinal says he leaves USCCB assembly more hopeful than when it started

11/14/2018 - 11:38pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he was leaving the bishops’ fall general assembly Nov. 14 more hopeful than when the meeting began two days earlier.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in remarks closing the assembly that his hope was primarily grounded in Christ as well as realizing that the body of bishops was on the road to implementing protocols to boost the accountability of bishops to laypeople and survivors of clergy sex abuse.

As the meeting started, Cardinal DiNardo expressed disappointment because the Vatican had asked that no vote be taken on several protocols governing bishops that he had hoped would be accepted during the three-day meeting.

The instruction came from the Congregation for Bishops, citing the upcoming February meeting of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences around the world to address clergy sex abuse and to ensure that the proposals were in line with canon law.

The cardinal also pledged to the pope the "loyalty and devotion" of the conference "in these difficult days."

"I am sure that, under the leadership of Pope Francis, the conversation that the global church will have in February will help us eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from our church," Cardinal DiNardo said. "It will make our local efforts more global and the global perspective will help us here."

In addition, the cardinal said, the hours of conversation involving bishops, eparchs, clergy abuse survivors and invited speakers throughout the assembly "have given me direction and consensus" and will serve as a "springboard for action."

As the USCCB developed a plan to respond to difficult news regarding clergy abuse over the summer, Cardinal DiNardo said conference leadership set three goals, among them fully investigating the circumstances surrounding reports that Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick had allegedly abused minors and seminarians.

Other goals, he said, included making it easier to report abuse and misconduct by bishops and developing means whereby bishops could be held more accountable for their actions and ensuring any plan was independent of the bishops, duly authorized by the church and had substantial lay involvement.

He said the assembly showed that the USCCB was on "course to accomplish these goals."

Progress also was made to establish a way for people to report complaints against bishops through a third-party hotline and that proposals for a national lay commission and a national network involving existing diocesan review boards will be developed, he said.

The cardinal also expressed hope that standards of accountability for bishops and a protocol for bishops removed from ministry also would be completed.

"We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment," Cardinal DiNardo said. "We will do so in communion with the universal church. Moving forward in concert with the church around the world will make the church in the United States stronger and will make the global church stronger."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski



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Update: Bishops vote to let Vatican inquiry proceed without commenting

11/14/2018 - 9:50pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops Nov. 14 defeated a resolution to encourage the Vatican to release all documents related to the investigation of allegations of misconduct by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

The resolution went down by a vote of 137-83 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore.

Bishop Earl A. Boyea Jr. of Lansing, Michigan, proposed the resolution. After a 30-minute discussion, the bishops decided to let the Vatican’s investigation proceed without urging any further action.

The resolution was introduced Nov. 14 after three days of discussion during the fall meeting that focused on the response of the full body of bishops to the clergy abuse allegations within the U.S. church.

The bishops have been under pressure from parishioners and priests in their dioceses to take some type of public action to show they are serious about their response to clergy sex abuse.

The vote came after a plan to adopt a series of more forceful actions designed to increase the accountability of bishops that had to be put aside at the request of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, opened the assembly with news of Vatican notification and that votes on the proposals would not be taken during the meeting. He said the letter asked that any action on the proposed steps be delayed until after the upcoming February meeting of the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world called by Pope Francis to address clergy sex abuse and the need to ensure that the proposals are in line with canon law.

USCCB leadership in September developed proposals for standards of episcopal accountability and the formation of a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the standards. Bishops discussed particular aspects of the proposals as well as amendments to them.

After its introduction, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, read from an Oct. 6 Vatican communique announcing the Holy See’s plan to investigate the circumstances surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s rise from a priest in Archdiocese of New York to become a member of the College of Cardinals while he served as archbishop of Washington.

Reports emerged in June and July that Archbishop McCarrick allegedly sexually abused minors decades ago and seminarians more recently children. Pope Francis accepted Archbishop McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals in July and assigned him to a life or prayer and penance. The former cardinal has denied the allegations.

Momentum seemed to build throughout the final two days of conference for the assembly to take some sort of action as the bishops had earlier intended. By midday Nov. 14 calls from bishops to vote on at least limited versions of the proposals became more numerous and vocal.

Several bishops said in public discussions throughout the assembly that Catholics in parishes in their dioceses had expected the conference to take serious steps to address the abuse crisis and that Vatican’s letter on delaying votes led to rising anger among some parishioners that another opportunity to act was being bypassed.

Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Boise, Idaho, was among the bishops who encouraged the assembly to take some action to assure the faithful that they wanted to remedy the rift that has developed between parishioners and the U.S. hierarchy.

He also said that action was necessary because not stepping up would be harmful to promulgating the pastoral letter on racism and the advancement of the sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman — both were approved Nov. 14 — as people would dismiss whatever the bishops had to say.

The most pointed comments in a second day of discussions on possible actions were aimed at Archbishop McCarrick. In comments critical of a fellow prelate that are almost never heard in public, several bishops called for the USCCB as a body to take public action against fallen archbishop.

Bishop Liam S. Cary of Baker, Oregon, charged that Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged actions had damaged "eucharistic unity and apostolic integrity."

"Archbishop McCarrick has grievously offended the faithful Catholics of the United States, to say nothing of the multiple victims he has offended. He’s offended the priests who have served faithfully. But he has offended us as bishops, as bishops, in a unique and important way," Bishop Cary said.

In a call to the assembly to reaffirm its support for Pope Francis, Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, said that the conference could not remain silent in response to charges by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former papal nuncio to the U.S., that the pope had known about Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged abuse and failed to act.

"The Holy Father requires our collaboration," Bishop Olson said. "We have cited the Vigano letter, some of us more formally than others. Yet not one of us, not this body, have repudiated his call for the resignation of the chair of Peter. Not one of us."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski


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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Update: Bishops overwhelmingly approve pastoral against racism

11/14/2018 - 5:49pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a pastoral letter against racism Nov. 14 during their fall general meeting at Baltimore.

The document, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love — A Pastoral Letter Against Racism," passed 241-3 with one abstention. It required a two-thirds vote by all bishops, or 183 votes, for passage.

"Despite many promising strides made in our country, the ugly cancer of racism still infects our nation," the pastoral letter says. "Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love," it adds.

Bishops speaking on the pastoral gave clear consent to the letter’s message.

"This statement is very important and very timely," said Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky. He appreciated that the letter took note of the racism suffered by African-Americans and Native Americans, "two pieces of our national history that we have not reconciled."

"This will be a great, fruitful document for discussion," said Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, in whose diocese the violence-laden "Unite the Right" rally was held last year. Bishop Knestout added the diocese has already conducted listening sessions on racism.

Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, what he called "ground zero for the civil rights movement," said the pastoral’s message is needed, as the civil rights movement "began 60 years ago and we’re still working on achieving the goals in this document."

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said he was grateful for the pastoral’s declaration that "an attack against the dignity of the human person is an attack the dignity of life itself."

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said the letter will be welcome among Native Americans, who populate 11 missions in the diocese, African-Americans in Arizona — "I think we were the last of the 50 states to be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday," he noted — and Hispanics, who make up 80 percent of all diocesan Catholics under age 20.

"This is very important for our people and our youth to know the history of racism," he added.

Bishop Shelton T. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, said an electronic copy of "Open Wide Our Hearts" would be posted "somewhat immediately," with a print version available around Thanksgiving.

"Also, there will be resources available immediately" now that the pastoral letter has been approved, including Catholic school resources for kindergarten through 12th grade, added the bishop, who also is chair of the bishops’ Subcommittee on African American Affairs.

"’Open Wide Our Hearts’ conveys the bishops’ grave concern about the rise of racist attitudes in society," Bishop Fabre said Nov. 13, when the pastoral was put on the floor of the bishops’ meeting. It also "offers practical suggestions for individuals, families and communities," he said.

"Every racist act — every such comment, every joke, every disparaging look as a reaction to the color of skin, ethnicity or place of origin — is a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God," it adds.

"Racial profiling frequently targets Hispanics for selective immigration enforcement practices, and African-Americans for suspected criminal activity. There is also the growing fear and harassment of persons from majority Muslim countries. Extreme nationalist ideologies are feeding the American public discourse with xenophobic rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees."

"Personal sin is freely chosen," a notion that would seem to include racism, said retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Nov. 13, but "social sin is collective blindness. There is sin as deed and sin as illness. It’s a pervasive illness that runs through a culture." Bishop Fabre responded that the proposed letter refers to institutional and structural racism.

An amendment from Bishop Ramirez to include this language in the pastoral was accepted by the bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, which guided the document’s preparation.

Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont, Texas, said Nov. 13 the pastoral "gives us a wonderful opportunity to educate, to convert," adding that, given recent incidents, the document should give "consideration to our Jewish brothers and sisters." Bishop Fabre replied that while anti-Semitism is mentioned in the document, future materials will focus on anti-Semitism.

A proposed amendment to the pastoral to include the Confederate battle flag in the pastoral alongside nooses and swastikas as symbols of hatred was rejected by the committee.

"Nooses and swastikas are widely recognized signs of hatred, the committee commented, but "while for many the Confederate flag is also a sign of hatred and segregation, some still claim it as a sign of heritage."

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Jesuit superior says Father Arrupe’s sainthood cause may open in February

11/14/2018 - 4:53pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jesuit Father B. Reynolds

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — Plans are underway for a solemn opening in February of the sainthood cause of Father Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983.

Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, the current superior, informed Jesuits Nov. 14 that the cause "has been set in motion in the Vicariate of Rome, the place of his death" and that "from now on, therefore, he is considered a ‘Servant of God.’"

In July, during a meeting in Spain, Father Sosa told Jesuits and lay collaborators that the serious work of preparation had begun. That preparation included compiling all of Father Arrupe’s writings and seeking eyewitnesses who could attest to his holiness.

More than 100 witnesses — mainly from Spain, Japan and Italy — are expected to testify, Father Sosa said. In addition, two commissions already have begun reviewing all Father Arrupe’s published works and "many unpublished documents written by or about Father Arrupe and the socio-ecclesial context in which he lived."

Father Sosa, in his November letter, said that assuming the Vatican and the bishops in and around Rome pose no objections, "the session formally opening the cause will take place at the Basilica of St. John Lateran" in Rome Feb. 5, 2019, the 28th anniversary of Father Arrupe’s death.

"Eloquent and even moving postulatory letters received from all over the world confirm that his reputation for holiness is recognized in different sectors of the church," Father Sosa said. "This reputation of holiness is spontaneous, continuous and enduring."

Father Arrupe’s work to help Jesuits rediscover the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and "the method of personal discernment and discernment in common" helped the Jesuits renew their life, "their consecration and vows, community and mission," Father Sosa said.


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Breaking News: Pro-Life Display Vandalized on Local Campus

11/14/2018 - 4:20pm
Crosses destroyed at Miami University on Oxford Ohio (Courtesy Photo)Crosses destroyed at Miami University on Oxford Ohio (Courtesy Photo)

Students at Miami University tear crosses out of Cemetery of the Innocents Display

November 14, 2018, (Cincinnati, OH): Students at Miami University’s Oxford campus have vandalized the Cemetery of the Innocents Display three times since it was put up on Monday, November 12th by Miami University Students for Life America (MUSFLA). On the evening of Monday, November 12th, some students knocked over one of the display signs. Things escalated on Tuesday evening when students began taking the display apart.

The Cemetery of the Innocents is a memorial display of white crosses intending to be a reminder of abortion’s toll on this country and its people. Twice, groups of students tore down dozens of crosses, and stole the Project Rachel sign intended to provide a resource for healing for post-abortive women. MUSFLA responded both times by calling campus police and simply re-assembling the display. Furthermore, on Wednesday morning, pro-life students woke to find a counter display set up next to the Cemetery of the Innocents. The counter display attempted to mock the pro-life exhibit by twisting their message.

Miami University Police have not been successful in identifying the perpetrators. Kimberly Moore, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at Miami University made a public announcement to the student community in which she says, “Such destructive behavior is not acceptable in our community and we must all join together to condemn it in the strongest possible terms. All Miami University students and student organizations have the right to free speech.”

“I was very disappointed in the response from my fellow students regarding our Cemetery of the Innocents display,” commented Sarah Wilhelm, Social Chair of MUSFLA. “Students for Life had hoped for a more civil response that sparked conversation. Instead our display was vandalized multiple times which does not align with Miami’s values and is completely unacceptable. I hope that in the future our community can have a more constructive dialogue.”

This is not the first time the Students for Life group on Miami has faced vandalism and free speech violations. In fall 2017, the President of MUSFLA, Ellie Wittman, and Alliance Defending Freedom sued Miami University for forcing the group to put up ‘trigger warning’ signs ahead of their pro-life display. School officials ultiately settled the lawsuit and rolled back the ‘trigger warning’ requirement.


Cemetery of the Innocents display set up by Miami University Students for Life America on Monday, November 12, 2018. (Courtesy Photo)Cemetery of the Innocents display set up by Miami University Students for Life America on Monday, November 12, 2018. (Courtesy Photo)

Where there are lies, there can be no love, pope says

11/14/2018 - 2:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Lying or being inauthentic is seriously wrong because it hinders or harms human relationships, Pope Francis said.

"Where there are lies, there is no love, one cannot have love," he said Nov. 14 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

To live a life "of inauthentic communication is serious because it obstructs relationships and, therefore, it obstructs love," he said.

The pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, focusing on the command, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," which, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, forbids misrepresenting the truth.

"We are always communicating," whether with words, gestures, one’s behavior and even by being silent or absent, the pope said. People communicate by who they are and what they do as well as by what they say, which means people are always at a crossroads, "perched" between telling the truth or lies.  

"But what does the truth mean?" he asked.

It is not enough to be sincere, he said, because someone could be sincere about a mistaken belief, and it is not enough to be precise because someone could hide the full meaning of a situation behind a barrage of insignificant details.

Sometimes, he said, people think that revealing other people’s personal business and confidential information is fine also because, "I only told the truth."

Gossip, however, destroys communion by being indiscreet and inconsiderate, the pope said.

The tongue is like a knife, he said, and "gossip kills," destroying people and their reputation.

"So then, what is the truth?" he asked.

The ultimate model of truth is Jesus, who came into the world "to testify to the truth." As he told Pontius Pilate, "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice," according to the Gospel of John (18:37).

To follow Jesus is to live "in the Spirit of truth" and bear witness to God’s truth, merciful love and fidelity, he said.

"Every person affirms or negates this truth with their every act — from minor everyday situations to more serious choices," the pope said, so people need to ask themselves whether they are upright and truthful in their words and deeds, "or am I more or less a liar disguised as truth?"

"Christians are not exceptional men and women. But they are children of the heavenly Father, who is good, who does not disappoint and who puts in our heart the love for our brothers and sisters," he said.

"This truth is not spoken so much with a speech. It is a way of being, a way of living and you see it in every single deed," he said.

"To not bear false witness means to live like children of God who never ever refutes" or contradicts himself, and never tells lies, he said.

It is living in a way that every deed reveals "the great truth that God is the Father and that you can trust in him," he said. God "loves me, he loves us and (from that) springs my truth, to be truthful and not deceitful."

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Holy Angels Outreach Committee brings love worldwide

11/14/2018 - 12:35pm

By Sharon Semanie

When musical artist Jackie DeShannon recorded the lyrics to “What The World Needs Now Is Love” in 1965, she couldn’t have envisioned that a tenacious group of women in Shelby County would put those words into action decades later. An estimated 100 women from the Holy Angels Catholic Church Outreach Committee, as well as Maria Stein, are the catalysts behind myriad projects benefiting individuals worldwide, from Kenya to Puerto Rico.

According to Judy Zimmerman, group leader, a former teacher at Lehman Catholic High School, and Jeanne Schlagetter, also a retired educator, the Outreach Committee has been in existence over five years. In that time, members have collected nearly 5,000 dresses for newborns to teens, handmade by parishioners and neighbors in the Maria Stein area. Dresses and boys’ shorts have been sent to Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, Ghana, Tanzania, Chile, Kenya and Ethiopia. The shorts were introduced, explained Zimmerman and Schlagetter, when two African boys adopted by a parishioner arrived wearing dresses.

Zimmerman said the impetus behind the dress project began in February 2013, when a group of 50 mothers and their daughters, all members of a Girl Scout troop, congregated in the Holy Angels cafeteria and began crafting Linus blankets, along with rosaries and other items, for those in need.

Anxious to recruit more parishioners to “get involved in outreach,” the two women began putting together kits (including fabric, ribbon and directions), which they placed in bins in the parish “connector” hallway for parishioners to take home and sew. One parishioner, Linda Thieman, they said, has completed 80 mission trips to Haiti and delivered nearly 2,000 dresses to girls living on the impoverished island.

“It’s the most awesome feeling seeing photos of girls (overseas) wearing our dresses and being able to say, ‘I made that one,’” said Zimmerman.

The committee’s ambitious efforts have extended beyond dresses to include prayer shawls, baby blankets and fleece blankets for the needy, as well as pillow cases for veterans. Their handmade items have been given to Brigid’s Path, Rustic Hope, Right to Life, the Women’s Center, fire stations, Wilson Hospital in Sidney, Dayton Children’s Hospital, and Jobs and Family First, among other organizations. In recent years, knitting and crocheting have been added to the list of talents, with prayer shawls and bereavement blankets sent to Africa and elsewhere.

Both Zimmerman and Schlagetter depend on the generosity of others and grants to cover the cost of materials. The active duo spend an inordinate amount of time “shopping for (fabric) bargains” at WalMart and JoAnn Fabrics. They also welcome donations from parishioners who’ve “been cleaning out their mother’s closets and attics.”

In addition, monies are received from raffles and bake sales, along with $7,000 raised from their participation in area Fair Trade Sales. “Fair trade,” they noted, “is a business model that seeks to maximize benefits to farmers and artists instead of profits for investors.”

Outreach Committee organizers said the next Fair Trade Sales will be held at the Ross Historical Center in Sidney on Nov. 16 and 17, and will feature women’s enterprises from Denver, Guatemala and Ghana. Items will include coffee, tea, chocolate, baskets, Christmas décor jewelry, home decor, items for babies and children, soups and samples of soups coffee and tea. Local artists will also have featured items along with pumpkin rolls, banana bread and cinnamon bread.

One of the unique ministries organized by the committee includes Wrapped in God’s Love afternoons of service. Sewing machines are humming and knitting needles are clicking when the group gathers at either the Shelby County YMCA, Maria Stein Shrine or Sidney Knights of Columbus Hall to pursue their sewing and knitting projects. Schlagetter and Zimmerman breathlessly describe project after project being undertaken by the committee, including forums on heroin, human trafficking and refugee resettlement.

Most recently the group joined members of a Nazarene church in Sidney to provide meals for 32 Puerto Rican families who have been resettled in the Sidney area in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Thirteen members of the group showed up in “HA” aprons to serve meals provided by the Spot Restaurant, Holy Angels Soup Kitchen and the Bridge Restaurant.

Many within the Puerto Rican contingent, they learned, arrived with only a suitcase and represented mostly men who were provided employment at Norcold Inc., a Sidney manufacturer. It didn’t take long before Schlageter and Zimmerman joined forces collecting blankets, sheets, towels, and other household items, all kept in Zimmerman’s garage. Seven car loads later, items were distributed to the men during a “free garage sale,” attended by Father Frank Bamberger, Holy Angels pastor, seminarians and others.

Zimmerman said many of the hurricane victims, including a chemistry teacher, three nurses and a police officer, are resettled in Sidney and are part of Norcold’s workforce. Several shipments of handmade clothes have also been sent to Puerto Rico by the committee. The “take away” from providing this ministry is simple for Schlagetter. “It enables me to live out my faith and provides me with a realistic way of accomplishing something,” she said.

Zimmerman acknowledged the efforts of this “joyful group,” who are primarily of retirement age, and extended an invite (especially to men and youth) to join in their good works.

When asked how projects come to fruition, she laughed and said, “We just do it and seek forgiveness later.”

Jubilarians 2018: Sisters of Charity

11/14/2018 - 11:37am


75 Years

Sister Maureen Donovan

A native of Iowa, Sister Maureen Donovan spent her active ministry years as an educator in Ohio and Michigan. She first ministered as a primary school teacher at the following Archdiocesan schools: St. Patrick, Cincinnati (1945-’50); St. Aloysius, Fayetteville (1950-’51); Resurrection, Cincinnati (1951-’55); and St. Bernadette, Amelia (1956-’60). The last 35 years of her full-time ministry were served as an elementary principal at St. James in Bay City, Michigan. As a retired volunteer, Sister currently resides at the St. James convent in Bay City.

Sister John Miriam Jones

A native of Denver, Colorado, Sister John Miriam Jones began her years of ministry as a teacher and administrator in elementary and secondary schools in Ohio, Illinois, Colorado and New Mexico. In 1972 she joined the University of Notre Dame as an assistant professor of microbiology and then associate provost until 1989. She was Notre Dame’s first high-level female administrator and played the principal role in the university’s integration of women undergraduates. She came to Cincinnati to serve as academic dean at the College of Mount St. Joseph from 1997 until 2001. Since, she has retired to the Motherhouse at Mount St. Joseph, where she continues to volunteer and serve the ministry of prayer.

Sister Ann Koebel

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, Sister Ann Koebel (formerly Sister Marianna) ministered as an elementary and secondary teacher, counselor and administrator at many locations in Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and New Mexico. In Cincinnati, she ministered at Seton High School (teacher, 1957-’62; counselor, 1965-’67) and Marian High School (counselor, 1968-’72; assistant principal, 1972-’73). From 1974 until 1978, she was the assistant principal at St. Joseph Infant and Maternity Home before ministering as her Community’s personnel director from 1981-’84. Currently a retired volunteer, Sister Ann resides in Mother Margaret Hall.

Sister Benedicta Mahoney

Born in Springfield, Ohio, Sister Benedicta Mahoney dedicated more than 50 years to elementary and secondary education in schools in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. As a junior high school teacher, she taught at St. William, Cincinnati (1953-’54); St. Lawrence, Cincinnati (1954-’55); and St. Gabriel, Glendale (1957-’58). More recently Sister Benedicta is known for years of teaching at Seton High School where she ministered for 19 years (1983-2002). Following her retirement, Sister Benedicta began 13 years of volunteer ministry in the Sisters of Charity Archives. She currently resides in the Motherhouse and continues to volunteer in various capacities.

Sister Marie Alice Moran

Born in Cincinnati, Sister Marie Alice Moran’s education ministry carried her across the country, as she served in Florida, Colorado, Michigan, and Ohio. She ministered as an intermediate teacher at the following schools in the Archdiocese: Holy Trinity, Middletown (1956-’58); St. Teresa, Springfield (1959-’64); St. Bernard, Springfield (1964-’65); Annunciation, Cincinnati (1966-’67); and Elizabeth Seton, Milford (1984-’85). In 1989, Sister Marie Alice left the formal classroom to minister in the reading lab at the College of Mount St. Joseph, where she remained until 1995. Sister is currently a retired volunteer and resides in the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse.

Sister Theresa Ann Moran

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sister Theresa Ann Moran spent four of her early years as a teacher at the following Archdiocesan schools: Holy Angels, Sidney (1950-’51); St. William, Cincinnati (1953-54); and St. Bernard, Springfield (1954-’56). For 20 additional years she served in elementary and secondary schools in Colorado, Illinois and Michigan. In 1970 Sister Theresa Ann left the classroom to serve as religious education coordinator in two Michigan parishes. From 1989-1997 she was the resident manager at Senior Housing in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. She retired in 1997 and continued to serve God’s people in various volunteer ministries. Sister Theresa Ann returned to the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse in 2015 where she currently serves the ministry of prayer.

Sister Mary Paula Renne

Born in Mankato, Minnesota, Sister Mary Paula Renne dedicated 53 years to educating children in Catholic grade schools throughout Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. She taught primary grades at St. Patrick in Cincinnati from 1946-’49. Following retirement in 1994 Sister currently participates in the ministry of prayer and presence.

Sister Bernadette Marie Shumate

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Sister Bernadette Marie Shumate dedicated her service to St. Rita School for the Deaf, where she remained for 50 years. She served first as an elementary teacher (1945-’71), then as a resident advisor (1971-’90), and finally as teacher of the hearing impaired (1990-’95). Currently retired, Sister resides in Mother Margaret Hall and volunteers her time to pastoral care.

70 Years

Sister Grace Ann Gratsch

Born in Cincinnati, Sister Grace Gratsch was missioned to Rome, Italy, to teach English to Italian boys at Villa Nazareth (1959-’65). Locally, she served as pastoral minister at Nativity (1974-’79), St. Bonaventure (1981-’84), and St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1988-’96). Sister also served as assistant director of ministry at the Motherhouse (1979-’81) and director of religious education at Holy Name in Trenton, Ohio (1985-’88). Retired now, she volunteers her time to various services and resides at the Motherhouse.

Sister Marie Patrice Joyce

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Sister Marie Patrice Joyce enjoyed her years of active ministry as an educator. In Cincinnati, she began as a primary teacher at St. Saviour (1950-’51) and St. Boniface (1956-’63). Sister then ministered at St. Andrew in Milford, Ohio, where she was principal from 1968-’71, and later parish religious education coordinator (1971-’78) before returning to the role of principal from 1978-’85. She is now retired and resides at the Motherhouse, volunteering in her spare time.

Sister Ann Lehman

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Sister Ann Lehman (formerly Sister Ann Josetta) spent 38 years teaching throughout Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, and Michigan. Within the Archdiocese, she served first at Holy Cross, Sidney (1955-’57), then Holy Angels, Sidney (1967-’70) and St. Albert, Dayton (1972-’87). Sister later was a house manager at St. Leonard Center, Dayton, throughout the 1990s. Living in Mother Margaret Hall, she is now retired and volunteers in various services.

Sister Barbara Muth

A native of Dayton, Sister Barbara Muth (formerly Sister Richard) served in a variety of roles in Ohio, Michigan, and the West. In Cincinnati, Sister taught primary and intermediate education at St. Martin De Porres (1954-’57) and St. Dominic (1957-’61). She later served as principal at St. Bernadette in Amelia, Ohio (1961-’67), and pastoral minister at St. Anthony Padua in Dayton (1991-’93). From 2001-’05, Sister ministered as director of the Seton Enablement Fund. Now retired and living in Mother Margaret Hall, she serves as a volunteer in pastoral care.

Sister Mary Pauline Tsai

A native of Beijing, China, Sister Mary Pauline Tsai studied to be a registered nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. After one year of service at a hospital in Kenton, Ohio, Sister was missioned to St. Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, where she worked for 11 years. Upon returning to the Archdiocese, she was a nurse at Cincinnati Good Samaritan Hospital (1970-’76) and at St. Joseph Infant Home (1976-’81). The last 12 years of her nursing ministry were at Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility at Mount St. Joseph. Retired since 1993, Sister Mary Pauline is currently serving the ministry of prayer and presence.

65 Years

Sister Rita Cocquyt

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sister Rita Cocquyt responded to her call as a Sister through education. As a primary teacher in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, she worked at St. William, Cincinnati (1959-’61); St. Rose, Cincinnati (1961-’62); and St. John the Baptist, Harrison (1962-’63). Beyond the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Sister has served as a teacher, reading center director, resource manager and computer technician across schools in her home state of Michigan. She is retired and living at the Motherhouse, volunteering as needed.

Sister Marilyn Joseph Czarnecki

Born and raised in Jackson, Michigan, Sister Marilyn Joseph Czarnecki spent over 45 years in education. Starting out as a primary teacher at Little Flower school in Royal Oak, Michigan (1956-’57), Sister then taught at Cincinnati Archdiocese schools. From 1960-’62, she taught at Corpus Christi school in Dayton, Ohio; from 1966-’72 at St. Saviour in Rossmoyne, Ohio; and from 1972-’81 Sister served as early childhood director at Early Learn Center in Mount St. Joseph. Before retiring in 2004, Sister was the principal of two Michigan elementary schools. She currently resides in Elkhart, Indiana, where she devotes her time to the ministry of prayer.

Sister Florence (Rose) Izzo

A native of Lansing, Michigan, Sister Rose Izzo has always ministered in the field of education, going into counseling later in life. She began her teaching ministry at Guardian Angels school in Detroit, Michigan (1955-’60), and then came to Cincinnati to teach at St. Patrick school (1960-’63) and St. Boniface school (1963-’68). For 15 years, Sister served in various education and counseling positions in Michigan before returning to Cincinnati as a self-employed counselor (1990-’95). From 1996-2005, Sister served as a counselor for two organizations in Michigan, and then retired. She currently resides in Mother Margaret Hall.

Sister Jane Bernadette Leo

Born and raised in Dayton, Sister Jane Bernadette Leo began her ministry at St. Rita School for the Deaf in Cincinnati in 1955, where she served first as a primary teacher. She left St. Rita for three years (1967-’70) to teach at St. Charles School in Lima, Ohio, but returned to St. Rita to minister in various capacities as elementary teacher, resident advisor, and religion teacher until 2006. Though retired, she still lives on the property of St. Rita, where she continues to volunteer her services.

Sister Frances Maureen Trampiets

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Sister Frances Maureen Trampiets has served as an educator in numerous schools across the country. Of her works in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Sister has served as an intermediate teacher (1959-’60) and a junior high teacher (1960-’65) at Corpus Christi in Dayton, then served as a high School English teacher at Marian High School in Cincinnati (1971-’75). She continued her service in Cincinnati through pastoral ministry at St. Stephen (1975-’77) and she served as communications director for the Sisters of Charity (1979-’84). At the University of Dayton Sister was the program director of curriculum development (1985-2001) and at the St. Mary Development Corporations she worked in communications (2001-’06). Sister is retired and currently living at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse.

60 Years

Sister Patmarie Bernard

Born in Celina, Ohio, Sister Patmarie Bernard (Patrick Marie) ministered with her contributions to healthcare. In her career of meeting the medical needs of others, Sister served much of her active ministry years in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, most notably as the executive director of Villa Therese Catholic Clinic (1981-2004) in Santa Fe. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Bayley Place Senior Care since 2011, aided in spiritual direction and retreat ministry at the Motherhouse since 2006, and works at the Santa Maria Community Center both on the Board of Directors and as a RN in their wellness clinics.

Sister Jackie Kowalski

Sister Jacqueline Kowalski was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan and has served as a teacher and licensed psychologist. Her service was exclusively in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati beginning with her career as a teacher at St. Saviour (Rossmoyne) from 1961-’63 and St. Andrew in Milford from 1963-’66. She taught students with learning disabilities at Springer School and Center from 1966-’70, then was made principal of that same institution from 1970-’75. At Mount St. Joseph University she served as the director of the Diagnostic Clinic from 1980-’91. Sister was the director of Seton Family Center from 1989 until 2013. Today she continues to serve Fernside Center for Grieving Children and Bereavement Groups at Resurrection School.

Sister Patricia Newhouse

Born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, Sister Patricia Newhouse answered her call to serve in the field of education. Within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, she served as an elementary teacher at Annunciation School in Cincinnati (1962-’66) and St. Brigid School in Xenia (1966-’68). After briefly returning home to Lansing then to Cleveland to serve as a teacher, she returned to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at St. Martin de Porres (1977-’79). Sister is currently retired and serving as a pastoral minister at St. Martha Parish in Okemos, Michigan, and is on the Diocesan Sisters Advisory Board as well as the Sisters Advisory Council.

Sister Christine Rody

Sister Christine Rody (the former Sister Marie Thomas Aquinas) was born in Bedford, Ohio. Her dedication to service travelled beyond the borders of her nation as she participated as a missionary in El Salvador from 1975 until 1980. Her leadership skills were commendable prior to this trip as she served as an elementary school teacher in schools across Cleveland. Since joining the Sisters of Charity, Sister has served as a councilor for the congregation (2011-2015) and currently serves as the Defender of the Bond on behalf of the Cleveland Diocesan Tribunal and volunteers for the Seeds of Literacy Program and St. Vincent DePaul Charitable Pharmacy.

Sister Juliette Sabo

Sister Juliette Sabo was born in Detroit, Michigan, and has dedicated her life and gifts to the field of education. One of her first contributions to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was as an elementary school teacher (1961-’67). She returned to her hometown to use her gifts as a teacher, but a majority of her time as an educator was in Cleveland. She eventually returned to Cincinnati in 1993 where she taught at St. Mark School for three years, and then at Resurrection School until her retirement in 2013. Since then, Sister has been volunteering as a teacher aide at Resurrection School, but she also serves as a Eucharistic Minister at Holy Family Church and at the Holy Family/St. Vincent de Paul Pantry.

Sister Ginny Scherer

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Ginny Scherer spent her years in active ministry as a high school teacher, most of the schools she taught at were in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In 1966, she began teaching at Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton, Ohio after teaching for four years in Detroit, Michigan. Sister went on to teach at various school in the Archdiocese, including teaching for seven years at Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney (1970-’77). She came back to Lehman to teach science classes in 2001 and continues to minister there today. Currently, she lives at the St. Mary Convent in Piqua, Ohio.

Sister Marie Irene Schneider

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sister Marie Irene Schneider dedicated her life to the education of future generations. From 1962-’68 she taught English at Carroll High School in Dayton, Ohio and began teaching at Seton High School the following year. In 1976, she was appointed the assistant principal at Seton High School until 1982, but returned to the classroom where she taught until 2013. The retired Sister currently resides at the Motherhouse.

Sister Roberta Westrick

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sister Roberta Westrick has responded to her calling in the service of others and in education. Beginning her ministry in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Sister was an elementary teacher at St. Saviour (Rossmoyne) from 1962 until 1964, where she taught at St. Dominic (1964-’66). After serving countless ministries in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jefferson City, Missouri, Orlando, Florida, and Denver, Colorado, Sister has since retired. She currently volunteers at Sacred Heart Church Pantry in Colorado Springs and sells some of her original art to patrons where she has served.

50 Years

Sister Mary Catherine Faller

A native of Cincinnati, Sister Mary Catherine Faller has ministered in education and healthcare. She taught Home Economics at Elizabeth Seton High School in Chicago, Illinois (1972-’73) and Seton High School in Cincinnati from 1974-’79. She then became a dietitian in 1981, ministering at many different places until 2011. Sister spent five of those years at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati (1982-’86) and (1987-’88) and 12 years at S. Joseph Home in Cincinnati (1999-2011). Currently, Sister serves as coordinator of the Hospitality Office at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse where she also resides.

25 Years

Sister Louise Zaplitny

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sister Louise Zaplitny has ministered diligently both in her hometown and Cincinnati as a chaplain. During her years of service in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Sister has served as a chaplain at Vencare Hospice for one year in 1997, then at Mercy Hospital from 1997 until 2003 after her education at Bethesda North Hospital. After returning to her hometown to serve as a chaplain once more, Sister Louise came back to the Cincinnati area to serve the Springfield Regional Medical Center (2008-’11) and was then promoted to special care coordinator at Mercy Siena Retirement Community from 2011 until 2015. In her retirement, she still responds to her call through volunteer work at Good Samaritan Hospital for Spiritual Care and Brummer Literacy Center.

Sister Maureen Donovan Sister John Miriam Jones Sister Ann Koebel Sister Benedicta Mahoney Sister Marie Alice Moran Sister Theresa Ann Moran Sister Mary Paula Renne Sister Bernadette Marie Shumate Sister Grace Ann Gratsch Sister Marie Patrice Joyce Sister Ann Lehman Sister Barbara Muth Sister Mary Pauline Tsai Sister Rita Cocquyt Sister Marilyn Joseph Czarnecki Sister Florence (Rose) Izzo Sister Jane Bernadette Leo Sister Frances Maureen Trampiets Sister Patmarie Bernard Sister Jackie Kowalski Sister Patricia Newhouse Sister Christine Rody Sister Juliette Sabo Sister Ginny Scherer Sister Marie Irene Schneider Sister Roberta Westrick Sister Mary Catherine Faller Sister Louise Zaplitny

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, an apostolic Catholic women’s religious community, exist to carry out the Gospel of Jesus Christ through prayer and service in the world. Sisters, using their professional talents in the fields of education, health care, social services and environmental justice, live and minister in 23 U.S. dioceses and in Guatemala and Mexico. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor. Approximately 289 Sisters are joined in mission by 206 Associates (lay men and women). Visit the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati website at or on Facebook at

Grumpy hateful or humble grateful

11/14/2018 - 12:18am

It’s Thanksgiving dinner. You look around the table and see, once again, your beloved, dysfunctional family. While you would like to imagine that you and your family are the perfect, loving family, around this turkey is a spicy mix of selfishness, negativism, pride, and a pinch of bitterness. I offer you some hope in saying that you are not special. All of us come to the table of plenty with a mixture of messy personalities. The slogan “We put the fun is dysfunction” is never more apparent than when we gather to celebrate this autumn feast. But the secret to recovery is right in front of our nose: we have gathered to give thanks, and it is this attitude of gratitude that can change these things and begin to transform our lives.

All of us operate on one of four steps of gratitude: the lowest step holds people who constantly gripe. They prefer to be grumpy hateful instead of humbly grateful. The next step is those folks who aren’t complainers, but never say thank you for anything.

Step three is where the thank you is said, but is mostly about the obvious stuff when life is good. The highest step holds people who “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5: 18). This highest step is where the air is charged with grace.

So, what can we do to get to that life changing gratitude? First , we must realize that all is gift and comes directly from God. It isn’t luck or hard work as much as it is God blessing us with the skill and talent to achieve our blessings. Then, it is important to follow the advice of the psalmist (Psalm 68:19): “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah.” We can’t give thanks just on Thanksgiving Day. We must live every day grounded in gratitude, because God is a “daily” kind of giver. Every prayer we say should be flavored with gratitude.

After we start thinking like a grateful soul, we should see everything, good or bad, as a place to give thanks. In the spiritual realm, Jesus is with us and constantly wants to be noticed and appreciated. Our praise and thanksgiving should be lifted up especially at the Eucharist.

However, we cannot overlook those simple things: a glass of clean water, good times with dear friends, sunrise with a cup of coffee…. Then, we turn to those tough thank you prayers, those pains and sorrow, heartaches and suffering. Romans 8:28 gives us an idea of reason, “ All things work together for good..” Paul, during his time in prison, points out that even the tough events will bring good. While the thing in itself is not good, God will bring good through the pain.

If we choose to live in that fourth step, we must cultivate these attitudes.

No matter how difficult or mysterious our life gets, there is something to be grateful for. Even when we do not feel like it, we should speak the words anyway. This is the leap of faith. Nothing shows our faith more than in those moments when we reach out to God in gratitude when we cannot fathom why things are so tough.

No matter if you are in prison like Paul or sitting at your Thanksgiving table, you can praise God. When we let go of self pity, bitterness, ungratefulness, fear and negativity everything changes for the better. As you pass the stuffing this year to your in-laws, stop in your tracks and look around you….and be thankful, so very thankful.

Dolan: Even without vote, discussing abuse protocols still ‘productive’

11/13/2018 - 10:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Vatican request that the U.S. bishops postpone voting on several proposals to address abuse was a disappointment but they "quickly took a deep breath" and realized they could still have a productive discussion about the measures, said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

"It’s a big thing and I don’t mind telling you … that from what I’ve heard my brothers say, there was a sense of disappointment and we can’t deny that," the cardinal said in a Nov. 13 interview with host Msgr. Jim Vlaun during "Conversation with Cardinal Dolan" on SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel.

"I think there was a momentum going, and we looked forward to a fruitful week, and now there’s a little frustration," the cardinal told the priest, who is president and CEO of Telecare Television of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York.

"However, I think the bishops quickly took a deep breath and said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s still doesn’t keep us from talking about it," Cardinal Dolan continued. "That still doesn’t keep us from giving Cardinal DiNardo a sound sense of direction as to where we should go and almost to deputize him to bring that to Rome at the February meeting."

He was referring to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who announced the Vatican’s request as the bishops’ Nov. 12-14 annual meeting opened in Baltimore.

The Congregation for Bishops requested that no vote be taken on proposals such as standards of episcopal accountability and conduct and the formation of a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the standards.

They are among steps developed by the USCCB Administrative Committee in September in response to the firestorm that has emerged since June over how the bishops handled reports of wayward priests.

Cardinal Dolan told Msgr. Vlaun that, am despite the vote delay, he felt the bishops’ discussion on the proposals would still be "pretty productive."

"I think we bishops in the United States keep reminding ourselves, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, we are Catholic. We are members of the church universal and we are a small segment of the church universal,’" the cardinal said. "We know here in the United States, this is not just a Catholic problem. We’re talking about the sexual abuse of minors. It is a problem in every religion, every organization, every family, every institution, every school."

"It is not just a Catholic problem. … Nor is it just an American problem. Now, we know that it’s throughout the world," Cardinal Dolan added. "So I think what the Holy Father is saying, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t want you to get too far ahead here. We appreciate what you’re doing in the United States, but we want you to be part of the universal discussion.’"

He added that he feels the Vatican made its request out of a " benevolent desire" that Cardinal DiNardo "come with an open mind" to the February meeting, instead of with "things already decided" by the U.S. bishops.

In Rome, in response to questions about the request the bishops delay voting, Catholic News Service was told the Congregation for Bishops "is working to ensure the best evaluation and accompaniment of the questions raised by the American episcopacy." Father Massimo Cassola replied to CNS on behalf of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the congregation.

Andrea Tornielli, a respected Vatican reporter, wrote Nov. 13 on the Vatican Insider website that "a Vatican source involved in the matter" told him: "It is wrong to think the Holy See does not share the objective of the U.S. bishops to have effective instruments for combating the phenomenon of the abuse of minors and to establish firm points regarding the responsibility of bishops themselves. The motive for asking for a postponement (of the vote) should not be considered putting on the brakes, but an invitation to better evaluate the proposed texts, including in view of the meeting in February of all the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of the world with the pope dedicated to the struggle against abuse."

Tornielli reported that the Vatican believed the proposal on standards of accountability for bishops "goes beyond both civil and canon law" and the Vatican raised concerns "regarding the generic nature of some passages; it could occur that a bishop does not know he is violating these standards of behavior but in the future could be brought before a national commission called to judge him."

"Another problem," Tornielli said, "regards some incoherence between the contents of the document regarding the national commission on the responsibility of bishops and the Code of Canon Law. In the draft given to the Vatican, the commission is described as a nonprofit institution without having a juridical and canonical figure, but it is able to exercise a power of judgment on bishops."

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Cindy Wooden in Rome contributed to this story.

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Bishops’ abuse response must trump all other issues, advisory group says

11/13/2018 - 7:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) — A group that has been advising the U.S. bishops for 50 years on multiple issues chose to speak to the bishops in Baltimore Nov. 13 on just one issue: the clergy sexual abuse crisis itself and ways to move forward from it.

"We are facing painful times as a church," Father David Whitestone, chair of the bishops’ National Advisory Council, told the bishops at their fall general assembly. This sense weighed heavily upon the council members during their September gathering, he noted.

"The depth of anger, pain and disappointment expressed by members of the NAC cannot begin to be expressed adequately in words," he said.

The priest, who is pastor of St. Leo the Great in Fairfax, Virginia, in the Arlington Diocese, noted that progress has been made since the bishops developed the 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," but he stressed that more needs to be done. "We can never become complacent. We must recommit to the ongoing care of all victims in their healing."

"Wounds inflicted, even many years ago, are no less real because of the passing of time nor are the demands of justice less urgent," he said.

Father Whitestone said the depth of the anger expressed by NAC members in the current church climate is "also an expression of our love for the church."

He said the abuse crisis has done great harm to the faith of many Catholics, particularly as it has come to light that the crisis is more than just sexual abuse committed by priests but predatory behavior of bishops against seminarians. The priest said Catholics should demand more of the clergy, deacons, priests and bishops than that they simply not break civil laws.

The response to this crisis needs to be more than issuing statements of regret and even establishing new mechanisms and procedures, he said, stressing instead that there should be a "new and radical recommitment to personal and institutional purification" and true repentance of past sins and facing consequences of these sins.

Members of the NAC did not vote on any other issues facing bishops as way of saying: "There is no single issue more pressing as a church than the crisis we are now facing."

All 35 voting members of the committee attending the September meeting agreed that the current scandal is of such urgency and importance that it must be the highest priory for the bishops’ fall assembly to begin to restore trust and credibility.

Retired Air Force Col. Anita Raines, an NAC board member, said the group approved of some action items the bishops were only discussing at the assembly and now not voting on as per a request from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops.

In particular, the advisory group supports the development of third-party system that would obtain confidential reports of abuse by bishops, Raines said, as well as the development of a code of conduct for bishops; an audit of U.S. seminaries to investigate possible patterns of misuse of power; establishment of special commission for review of complaints against bishops; and an independent investigation of allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, former cardinal-archbishop of Washington.

Father Whitestone stressed that while the advisory group recognizes the significance of this scandal in the church it also knows that the church is "more than this crisis" and has a mission to continue to preach the Gospel.

He said Catholics have gone through a range of emotions as this crisis has unfolded but those committed to the church want to help it move forward.

"The bishops needn’t bear the burden of setting the course of the way forward alone." He said the lay faithful want to help and urged the bishops to let them.

"We as a church will move forward," he added.

The speakers received an extended standing ovation from the bishops.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim


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Temporary mobile health clinic for the poor opens in St. Peter’s Square

11/13/2018 - 3:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As workers were getting St. Peter’s Square ready for this year’s Nativity scene, nearby a large mobile health care facility was set up and running to serve the city’s homeless and poor.

About two dozen men and a few women were sitting or standing in a spacious area, quietly waiting their turn or filling out basic paperwork before being called for their free checkups.

Doctors volunteering from Rome hospitals or other health clinics and nurses from the Italian Red Cross took shifts running laboratory tests and seeing patients from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

For the second time, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization organized the free health care initiative in conjunction with Pope Francis’ celebration of the World Day of the Poor, which was to be celebrated Nov. 18. But this year, the clinic offered extended morning and evening hours. Anyone in need could find general and specialist care, including cardiology, dermatology, gynecology and ophthalmology.

Roberta Capparella, a Red Cross nurse, told reporters Nov. 13 that she and many others took part in last year’s initiative and found it "very gratifying."

She said they were so happy to hear Pope Francis wanted to offer the free health services again this year that they jumped at the chance to serve again.

"Just by being here all day, volunteers realize that they aren’t giving of themselves, but that they are receiving" from the people they serve, she said.

The World Day of the Poor — marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time — focuses this year on a verse from Psalm 34, "This poor one cried out and the Lord heard."

The commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to give Christians a chance to follow Christ’s example and concretely share a moment of love, hope and respect together with those in need in one’s community, the pope said in his message for the day, published in mid-June.

Local churches, associations and institutions were again asked to create initiatives that foster moments of real encounter, friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.

The pope was to celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Nov. 18 with the poor and volunteers, and he was scheduled to have lunch afterward with about 3,000 people in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall. Other volunteer groups and schools were also set to offer free meals throughout the city.

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Gobsmacked: Rome steps in, reform votes delayed

11/13/2018 - 2:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Greg Erlandson

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Seasoned bishop watchers know that just about every fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a surprise. Sometimes it’s an election result. Sometimes it is the debate you never expected. Sometimes it’s that there’s no debate.

But the first day of the 2018 fall meeting was one that caught just about everyone in the room flat-footed. Right on the eve of what looked to be a decisive meeting of the U.S. bishops in dealing with sexual abuse within their own ranks, the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops asked them not to vote on two of the key proposals that were to be put before them.

When Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the conference, made the announcement within the opening minutes of the meeting, the entire room — bishops, staff and journalists — were gobsmacked.

This, after all, was the meeting when the bishops were going to get their own house in order following the latest wave of sex abuse stories — Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and the subsequent flood of subpoenas and investigations and self-published lists of priest offenders.

The McCarrick scandal in particular raised questions about who knew what and when. It also highlighted the fact that even when adults were involved, there could be harassment and abuse of power. In an Aug. 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo called for "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops, and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints."

Following meetings in Rome, some of the early requests by the U.S. — particularly for an apostolic visitation to investigate the questions surrounding the McCarrick scandal — were rejected or modified by Rome. Likewise, a request by Pope Francis that the fall meeting become a weeklong retreat for the U.S. bishops was rejected as logistically impractical, and plans were made for such a retreat in January in Chicago.

What is not clear is how much of the discussion and planning by the U.S. bishops involved Rome. By the eve of the November meeting, the U.S. bishops were planning to ask for votes by the entire conference on three key issues:

— A proposal for "Standards of Episcopal Conduct."

— A proposal to establish a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the "Standards of Episcopal Conduct."

— And a protocol regarding restrictions on bishop who were removed from or resigned their office due to sexual abuse of minors, sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, or grave negligence in office.

In addition, there was to be a report on a third-party reporting system that would allow victims or those knowledgeable of abusive situations regarding bishops to report such cases confidentially.

According to Cardinal DiNardo’s announcement, word was received Nov. 11 that the Vatican was asking the conference to delay their vote because of the previously announced meeting at the Vatican of the presidents of all the world’s bishops’ conferences to discuss the abuse crisis in February.

In his remarks, Cardinal DiNardo expressed his disappointment at this request, which threw the planned agenda for the four-day meeting into disarray.

Theories abound about what happened and why, ranging from the darkly conspiratorial to the surmise that Rome simply did not want the U.S. bishops to get too far ahead of the Vatican on the very sensitive issues involving the disciplining of bishops. Such discipline in church law is normally the prerogative of the pope himself.

One observer said that the U.S. bishops’ sense of urgency — inspired in part by the anger of many lay Catholics and their priests — clashed with the more cautious way that Rome would approach any issue with such far-reaching implications.

What will be the implications of this sudden twist is still unknown. Protesters and bishops alike may now see Rome as the obstructionist, and the growing pressure on Pope Francis will continue. Ironically, this may take some heat off the U.S. bishops, at least temporarily, but is unlikely to help Rome-U.S. relations.

Critics of the proposed action items also may be relieved, since there were those who viewed the proposals as opening the door for other conferences to make similarly unilateral changes in areas of discipline or doctrine.

Perhaps most frustrated are those bishops — many of them appointees after 2002 — who want to open their archives, name priests credibly accused, and forthrightly address issues of accountability and transparency.

Following the announcement of the delay, the bishops of the Missouri province released a letter originally written Oct. 6. It expressed support for the proposals suggested by Cardinal DiNardo but added: "We fear these measures will not be enough in either substance or timeliness to meet the demands that this pastoral crisis presents."

Delay is inevitable, however. And now the bishops have the rest of their meeting to decide what, if anything, they are still able to do.

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