Bishops from the home dioceses of the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals made a bet on the outcome of the 2011 World Series.
Abp. Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, MO, challenged Bp. Kevin W. Vann of Forth Worth, TX, a former Cardinals fan, to the bet involving local food items, charitable donations, and a Stetson cowboy hat.
In a joint press release, the dioceses explained that Fort Worth’s bishop would send the traditional Texan hat to Abp. Carlson, along with a supply of “authentic” Texas barbeque, if the Cardinals won the series.
But if St. Louis lost, the city’s bishop would send a supply of local delicacies to Bp. Vann, including toasted ravioli, Gus’s pretzels, Schlafly Beer, and Fitz’s Root Beer.
The St. Louis Archdiocese said Bp. Vann would also receive “a Cardinals baseball cap to replace the caps Bp. Vann discarded when he moved to Texas,” if the Rangers took the trophy.
The winning bishop’s Catholic Charities office would also receive $10 for every run scored in the series.
Bp. Vann once rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals while studying at the city’s Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Before that, the Springfield, IL, native grew up watching the Cardinals’ minor-league farm team, the Springfield Cardinals.
According to the St. Louis Archdiocese, Abp. Carlson “looked forward to the opportunity to remind Bp. Vann of his strong St. Louis roots and change his allegiance back to the St. Louis Cardinals,” in the event of a Cardinals win.
Meanwhile, Bp. Vann was said to be looking forward to “demonstrating that one must follow God’s will and the blessings that come with conversion.”
But the Bishop of Fort Worth also saw a trend at work.
His diocese reminded Abp. Carlson that “North Texas hosted Super Bowl XLV in the diocese in February, the NBA championships in the spring, which North Texas’ Dallas Mavericks won, and now the World Series,” which Bp. Vann was “confident the Texas Rangers will win.”
The Cardinals won the 2011 World Series in a 6-2 Gam 7 win played in St. Louis.
A Vatican document called for the gradual creation of a world political authority with broad powers to regulate financial markets and rein in the “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development.”
The document said the current global financial crisis has revealed “selfishness, collective greed, and the hoarding of goods on a great scale.” A supranational authority, it said, is needed to place the common good at the center of international economic activity.
The 41-page text was titled, “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.” Prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, it was released Oct. 24 in several languages, including a provisional translation in English.
The document cited the teachings of popes over the last 40 years on the need for a universal public authority that would transcend national interests. The current economic crisis, which has seen growing inequality between the rich and poor of the world, underlines the necessity to take concrete steps toward creating such an authority, it said.
One major step, it said, should be reform of the international monetary system in a way that involves developing countries. The document foresaw creation of a “central world bank” that would regulate the flow of monetary exchanges; it said the International Monetary Fund had lost the ability to control the amount of credit risk taken on by the system.
The document also proposed:
–Taxation measures on financial transactions. Revenues could contribute to the creation of a “world reserve fund” to support the economies of countries hit by crisis, it said.
–Forms of recapitalization of banks with public funds that make support conditional on “virtuous” behavior aimed at developing the real economy.
–More effective management of financial shadow markets that are largely uncontrolled today.
Such moves would be designed to make the global economy more responsive to the needs of the person, and less “subordinated to the interests of countries that effectively enjoy a position of economic and financial advantage,” it said.
In making the case for a global authority, the document said the continued model of nationalistic self-interest seemed “anachronistic and surreal” in the age of globalization.
“We should not be afraid to propose new ideas, even if they might destabilize pre-existing balances of power that prevail over the weakest,” it said.
The “new world dynamics,” it said, call for a “gradual, balanced transfer of a part of each nation’s powers to a world authority and to regional authorities.”
“In a world on its way to rapid globalization, the reference to a world authority becomes the only horizon compatible with the new realities of our time and the needs of humankind,” it said. Helping to usher in this new society is a duty for everyone, especially for Christians, it said.
While the Vatican document focused on financial issues, it envisioned a much wider potential role for the global political authority. The agenda also includes peace and security, disarmament and arms control, protection of human rights, and management of migration flows and food security, it said.
Establishing such an authority will be a delicate project and will no doubt come at a cost of “anguish and suffering” as countries give up particular powers, the document said. The authority should be set up gradually, on the basis of wide consultation and international agreements, and never imposed by force or coercion, it said.
The authority should operate on the principle of subsidiarity, intervening “only when individual, social or financial actors are intrinsically deficient in capacity, or cannot manage by themselves to do what is required of them,” it said. Countries’ specific identities would be fully respected, it said.
The authority should transcend special interests, and its decisions “should not be the result of the more developed countries’ excessive power over the weaker countries” or the result of lobbying by nations or groups, it said.
“A long road still needs to be traveled before arriving at the creation of a public authority with universal jurisdiction. It would seem logical for the reform process to proceed with the United Nations as its reference,” it said.
At a news conference Oct. 24, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, emphasized that the document was “not an expression of papal magisterium,” but instead was an “authoritative note of a Vatican agency,” the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In that sense, he said, it would not be correct to report that “Pope Benedict says” what’s in the document, he said.
The document did make a point of quoting from the teachings of several popes, however, including those of Pope Benedict XVI, who in his 2009 encyclical “Charity in Truth” (“Caritas in Veritate”) said there was “an urgent need of a true world political authority” that could give poorer nations a bigger voice in financial decision-making.
The document also cited Blessed John Paul II’s 1991 warning of the risk of an “idolatry of the market” in the wake of the failure of European communism. Today his warning “needs to be heeded without delay,” it said.
In fact, it said, the primary cause of the current global crisis has been “an economic liberalism that spurns rules and controls” and that relies solely on the laws of the market.
Card. Peter Turkson, head of the justice and peace council, said the Vatican document could be a useful contribution to the G-20 summit in France Nov. 3-4, which is looking to reform the international monetary system and strengthen financial regulatory measures.
The document noted that the G-20 includes developing countries and said this represented progress from the time when there was just a G-7, a group of seven industrialized countries that shaped economic policies.
In general, over the last 30 years there was a tendency to define the strategic directions of economic policy “in terms of ‘clubs’ and of smaller and larger groups of more developed countries,” it said. While this approach had some positive aspects, it appeared to leave out the emerging countries, it said.
Catholic leaders said they could not rejoice at the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but they recalled some of his more brutal moments and speculated on the future of Christians in the region.
“Gadhafi brutalized people for 42 years. He lived by the sword and, therefore, it’s not surprising that he would die by the sword,” said Habib Malik, associate professor of history at the Lebanese American University, Byblos campus.
“The manner of his death was gruesome and, no matter how evil a person might have been, such an ending is never something to rejoice about; however, he is now dead and his people are justifiably relieved and hopeful about starting a new chapter in their history,” he said.
Malik, a Lebanese Catholic, recalled Gadhafi’s role at the outset of the Lebanese war in 1975.
“He sent mercenaries and snipers to Beirut as well as to Christian coastal towns, where they murdered scores of innocent civilians, and he made many outrageous statements at the time against Lebanon’s Christians,” said Malik, author of the 2010 book Islamism and the Future of the Christians of the Middle East.
“In addition to all this he was, of course, responsible for the disappearance of Iman Moussa Sadr,” a prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric who vanished during a 1978 visit to Libya.
Maronite Fr. Camille Moubarak, president of Sagesse University in Beirut and former dean of its faculty of political science, said : “Gadhafi is one of the leaders who, in the beginning, was good for his people. When he became bad after some years, the possibility of change was easy.”
However, said Fr. Moubarak, world powers “were with Gadhafi. So after this, we can say that not just Gadhafi alone was the dictator.”
He said it is hard to tell what will happen because of regional instability. He said Libya–and Syria, Yemen, and Egypt–could go from one dictator to another. As time goes on, “the people will accept any solution to get out from the war,” he added.
In times of instability, he said, bad people wield power over the weak.
“And who is the weak group in these countries? The Christians. That’s why these kinds of wars are dangerous for the Christians in these kinds of countries,” he said.
Abp. Tommaso Caputo, apostolic nuncio to Libya and Malta, told the Vatican-based Fides news agency that in four years of traveling throughout Libya: “I have come to believe that the Libyan heart is nourished by the desire of peace and harmony. This is what we hope for the future.”
Hours after Gadhafi’s death, the Vatican press office said it marked the end of a “harsh and oppressive regime” based on power instead of human dignity. It expressed hope that the bloodshed would end and that the new Libyan government would open a rebuilding phase based on “a spirit of inclusion” and social justice.
In a separate interview, Card. Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the important thing in post-Gadhafi Libya was whether true participatory democracy can be instituted.
“The world can never celebrate the death of a person, not even a criminal,” he told the Italian agency TM News. He said Gadhafi could have found exile in another country to “reflect on and apologize for what he has done, but he wanted to fight to the finish. I’m sorry it ended like that.”
Card. Turkson said it was not yet clear where the “Arab spring” would lead and whether it would help the minority Christian populations of the area. In Libya, he noted, the church is a church of “presence and witness,” made up largely of foreigners.
He said that the Christian populations in Iraq and Egypt were probably better off under previous regimes that have been overthrown.
“We hope the rediscovery of freedom in these months is not only freedom from certain leaders, but freedom for everyone, including religious freedom for all communities,” he said.
But the priest who served in Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 when a bomb exploded on Pan Am Flight 103 said he regretted that the Libyan dictator was not allowed to live when rebels captured him Oct. 20 in a drainage pipe outside city of Sirte. He said he thought Gadhafi should have had to stand trial for the “atrocities and crimes” he might have committed.
“We would like the truth of what happened even though Gadhafi had died,” said Fr. Patrick Keegans, now the administrator of St. Mary Cathedral in Ayr, Scotland. “It is very convenient for some governments that Gadhafi had died, because they clearly had connections with him that were rather suspect.”
Contributing to this story were John Thavis at the Vatican and Simon Caldwell in Manchester, England.
The Vatican said the death of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi marked the end of a “harsh and oppressive regime” that was based on power instead of human dignity.
It expressed hope that the bloodshed would end in the North African country, and that the new Libyan government would open a rebuilding phase based on “a spirit of inclusion” and social justice.
The statement was issued by the Vatican press office late Oct. 20, several hours after Gadhafi was reported killed in his coastal hometown of Sirte, where he had been barricaded with loyalist troops. His death came after months of bloody civil strife and NATO airstrikes in support of Libyan rebels.
The Vatican said the Libyan conflict had been “too long and tragic” and should prompt reflection on the “cost of immense human suffering” that accompanies the collapse of systems not founded on respect for human rights.
It encouraged the new Libyan government to try to prevent further violence caused by a spirit of revenge and to begin a program of pacification. The international community, it said, should provide generous aid toward the reconstruction of the country.
For its part, the minority Catholic community in Libya will continue to offer “its witness and its unselfish service, especially in the areas of charity and health care,” it said. The Vatican said it would work in favor of the Libyan people in the international diplomatic arena.
The statement said the Vatican considers the transitional government as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The Vatican, it said, has already had various contacts with the new authorities in Libya, through the Libyan Embassy to the Vatican, at the UN, and in Libya.
It said the apostolic nuncio to Libya, who resides in Malta, had gone to Libya for talks in early October with the provisional prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, and other officials.
“In these diverse encounters, both sides underlined the importance of the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Libya. The Holy See had the opportunity to renew its support for the Libyan people and its support for the transition,” the Vatican said.
The officials of Libya’s new government have expressed appreciation for the humanitarian appeals of Pope Benedict XVI and for the church’s service in Libya, in particular the work of 13 religious communities in hospitals or assistance centers.
The compact car lifted a trail of dust as it traveled slowly along the 18-foot-tall chain-link fence, attracting the attention of the US Border Patrol agent sitting in his green and white SUV.
When the vehicle stopped and two women got out, he was concerned contraband might be tossed over the fence into the US to the waiting vehicle. Instead, the women began throwing items into Mexico.
The two women were Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who come to the fence periodically and toss whatever they can get to give the needy families of Puerto de Anapra, one of the poorest and most violent suburbs of Ciudad Juarez.
“The agent said it was OK for us to be here, but only for a short time,” said the older nun, who identified herself as Sr. Marie. Her companion on the goodwill venture into this remote area of the fence–where Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico converge–was Sr. Karen. Both sisters requested their last names not be disclosed.
“It’s sad, they are so poor,” said Sr. Marie. “It breaks my heart see them have to live like this and how they live in such fear.”
The presence of the sisters attracted nearly 20 people, who rushed down dirty, garbage-strewn alleys to make it to the fence to receive their gifts.
As the children pressed their faces against the tight fence, Sr. Karen pushed the licorice through the narrow spaces to the tiny fingers of the children. The small spaces make it much more difficult for migrants to get a good footing to cross into the US.
“Hey, how many do you have there, make sure you share,” Sr. Marie said to a boy about 12, as she kept a close watch to ensure everyone who showed up to the fence got something,
The boy looked at Sr. Marie and knew the fence allowed him to ignore her request, but he looked at the crowd for another child that did not have a piece of the candy and relinquished his extra.
Sr. Marie began these periodic jaunts to the border fence five years ago, after attending the annual Border Mass held in early November and celebrated with congregants facing each other while divided by the fence.
“The people would come to the fence and tell us they desperately needed things,” Sr. Marie said.
The “things” were not specified but the abject poverty the Anapra residents live in is evident. Sr. Marie, and whoever would help her, would pile pre-worn clothes, shoes, toys, and blankets into her car and drive to the fence.
“When we got there people would just show up, and we would throw the items over the fence,” Sr. Marie said. “It’s so sad, these people live in shacks, they have nothing.”
According to the Border Patrol agents who kept a close watch on the group, what the sisters do is very dangerous. One agent who declined to give his name–very few people agree to provide their full name at the border–said this area has seen an increase in violence not only against the people in Mexico but against Border Patrol agents. He pointed to his patrol vehicle, which had grates and fencing on all of the windows.
“They throw rocks at us all the time and just recently began throwing cats and dogs over the fence at our vehicles,” said the agent.
One woman who brought her children to meet the sisters was Brenda Alicia, 31. She pointed to her home next to the border fence, adjacent to a wall with gang graffiti on it. Brenda Alicia said she has three children, 13 and 12 years old and 3 months. The two older children were at her side, chewing on newly acquired red licorice.
“I like when the sisters come, we need so much here, especially now that it’s getting cold,” Brenda Alicia said.
The poverty the people in Puerto de Anapra suffer is only a short drive from a large casino, horse race track, and amusement park in Sunland Park, NM–amenities Brenda Alicia and her children are oblivious to, given their circumstances.
“It’s getting worse here, there are more killings,” Brenda Alicia said.
She said she is fearful that her older son may be enticed to get involved with the gangs because of the easy money.
Sr. Marie and Sr. Karen know the danger they face when they come to this remote area of the border.
“I come here fearless,” Sr. Marie said.
Their missions are conducted under the watchful eye of Border Patrol agents, who give the nuns their tacit but reluctant approval.
With the trunk of her car now empty, Sr. Marie, with the aid of Sr. Karen, began handing out pastel-colored rosaries, accepted as eagerly as the licorice. As that supply dwindled, a burly Border Patrol agent approached the sisters.
“Sister we have some bandit activity on their side further up the fence, and we don’t want them to come and take the things away from the people,” said the agent.
Often, youth gangs beat the group and take the items the sisters had just given them.
“OK, thank you,” Sr. Marie said.
The Border Patrol agent walked off, allowing the sisters to say their goodbyes to the group, but returned within a minute with greater urgency after receiving another radio call.
“Sisters you need to leave now because they are throwing rocks at our agents and we don’t want you getting struck.”
“We’d better go now, thank you and God bless you,” Sr. Marie said to the agent, giving him a hearty handshake.
Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed three saints and said their lives demonstrated that true faith is charity in action.
“These three new saints allowed themselves to be transformed by divine charity,” the pope said at a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 23.
“In different situations and with different gifts, they loved the Lord with all their heart and they loved their neighbor as themselves, in such a way as to become models for all believers,” he said.
All three founded religious orders in the 19th century, working in missionary areas and on behalf of society’s disadvantaged in Europe. The canonizations took place on World Mission Sunday, and the pope said their witness showed that love is at the center of the missionary task.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims filled the square on a splendid fall morning, many carrying holy cards, banners and images of the saints. Tapestries with portraits of the newly canonized hung from the facade of the basilica.
The new saints were:
—St. Guido Maria Conforti, an Italian who founded the Xaverian Foreign Missionary Society, dedicated to the sole purpose of evangelizing non-Christians. He sent missionaries to China in 1899 and personally traveled to China in 1928 to visit the order’s communities.
Plagued by ill health, he also served as a diocesan bishop in Italy for many years, making religious instruction the priority of his pastoral ministry and establishing schools of Christian doctrine in all parishes.
—St. Louis Guanella, the Italian founder the Servants of Charity, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, and the Confraternity of St. Joseph, whose members pledge to pray for the sick and dying. Having worked with young women in northern Italy, he came to Rome and founded an association of prayer for the dying.
“It is impossible to stop as long as there are poor people to be helped,” he would tell his colleagues. In 1912, at the age of 70, he traveled to the US to work among Italian immigrants in North America.
Pope Benedict, in his homily, called him a “prophet and apostle of charity.”
—St. Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, a Spanish cordmaker in Salamanca who gathered working women for spiritual encounters in her house-shop. The group became the Servants of St. Joseph, a congregation dedicated to providing a religious and technical education to poor women and protecting them in the workplace.
Her religious did not wear habits and they worked side by side with laywomen in the shop, practices that aroused the resentment of the local clergy. Opposed by the bishop, she was removed as superior of the community and left Salamanca in humiliation; she opened a new foundation in the city of Zamora, where she was welcomed by the bishop. Only in 1941 was she recognized as the foundress of her congregation.
A sung prayer during the Mass proclaimed: “The mission of Bonifacia is not finished: In God she looks after the dignity of the women workers of the world.”
In his sermon, the pope said the lives of the new saints underscored that love is the essence of the Christian message.
“The visible sign that Christians can show the world to witness Christ’s love is love for one’s brothers and sisters,” he said. These saints, he said, demonstrated that when faith is strong, there is a sense of urgency in announcing this love to all.
The liturgy had a US connection: Carrying relics of St. Guanella to the altar was William Glisson, a 30-year-old Pennsylvania man, whose healing after a rollerblading accident nine years ago was accepted by the Vatican as the miracle needed for the saint’s canonization.
Glisson, who had been skating backward without a helmet, hit his head and was in a coma for nine days. Doctors gave him little hope for recovery. A family friend, meanwhile, gave Glisson’s mother two relics of Blessed Guanella, and the prayers began. Glisson recovered unexpectedly and was released from the hospital less than a month after the accident.
Toward the end of the Mass, a man stood on the upper ledge of the colonnade above the square and burned pages of a Bible before tossing it down among the faithful. After nearly a half hour, Vatican security agents, assisted by a bishop, were able to convince the man to step inside the railing of the colonnade and he was led away.
The pope did not react to the incident. The man was later identified as Iulian Jugarean, a Romanian, who was taken into Vatican custody. Vatican officials described him as unbalanced, and said he claimed to have an important message about international terrorism to announce.
An Egyptian political scientist says the latest violence against Coptic Christians shows a harsh reality behind the “Arab Spring,” including a lack of control over rogue elements in Egypt’s army.
“We’ve had a number of attacks against Christians in the past couple of months, and the problem has intensified. There’s been a dramatic increase in violence against Christians in the central land of the ‘Arab Spring,’” said Samuel Tadros, an Egyptian Copt and research fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
“I would hope that such an event as what happened on Sunday would serve as a wake-up call to people here,” Tadros told CNA.
An Oct. 9 march on Cairo to protest church burnings turned into a riot pitting largely unarmed Christians against both the army and Muslim mobs, leaving at least 24 people dead–including at least 17 Christians–and 272 injured. Father Rafic Greiche, a spokesman for Eastern Catholics in Egypt, said Oct. 10 that the army used “vagabonds” and “street fighters” against a “peaceful demonstration.”
Tadros said the outbreak of religiously-charged violence, the worst in Egypt since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, was an “unfortunate moment” that should serve as a “turning moment–not in terms of the violence that could follow, but in terms of how the Western media, and the West in general, sees the problem and realizes the existence of a problem.”
Sunday’s violence, he said, stemmed largely from elements within the army that oppose the country’s historic Christian presence along with anything that seems “Western.”
Egypt’s interim military government officially runs the country at present, since Mubarak’s departure. But the nation’s strongest institution seems unable, or unwilling, to control rogue elements within.
Tadros says he doubts the “dominant narrative” emerging from many Egyptians about Sunday’s violence, which assumes that the army as a whole either “ordered, or was ordered, to kill” protesters.
Rather, he believes the responsibility lies with particular individuals and groups within the military.
It is not a thought he finds comforting.
“I think the more likely scenario–and I hate to put it this way, but perhaps the more frightening scenario–is that the army actually lost control of its own soldiers during the attacks.”
“The more likely thing that happened was that there was an order to disperse, the army took the position that there would not be any demonstrators in front of the TV headquarters, and the soldiers were given that order.”
“However, we have to remember, when we talk about the Egyptian army, that this is not a professional army–90 percent, if not all, of the soldiers are conscripts,” Tadros explained. “They serve one year of their ‘national duty’ in the army, after which they return to their normal lives again.”
“So these are regular Egyptians, that have suffered from the same hatred and prejudices that exist in society.”
A series of events both before and after Sunday’s protests have led Tadros to believe that the killing of demonstrators–who were reportedly shot at random and run down with military vehicles–was the work of radical individuals and subgroups within the army.
He recalled a telling scene that took place at a smaller Coptic protest four days before the clashes in Cairo. In that instance, too, protesters were “dispersed and beaten by the army, the soldiers and the officers.” But a video from the event shows a struggle of different attitudes within its ranks.
“We see, in one of the videos, after the initial beating of a protester, that the army officers–no human rights lovers, of course–are satisfied that the guy is beaten (enough), and try and stop it.”
The footage shows how one officer “order the soldiers to stop. They don’t.”
“He tries to stop the guy on the left. He stops him, but the soldier on the right continues to beat the protester. He turns to him, only to have the one on the left return to beating. Every new soldier arriving on the scene beats the protester.”
“The officer–for two minutes, as we see in the video–is doing his best to stop it. Again, he doesn’t like the guy, but he doesn’t want a dead body. And he even slaps one of his soldiers. Yet the beating continues.”
Tadros pointed to a second piece of footage, which emerged after the violence on Oct. 9, as evidence for his belief that rogue soldiers took their orders to disperse the crowd as a license to kill.
“The second video that we have, that’s equally disturbing, is from after the attack on Sunday. The army soldiers are being put on their buses to return to their barracks. And we have one of the soldiers emerging from a window of the bus.”
“He shouts at the Muslim onlookers surrounding the bus, ‘I shot him in the chest’”–an apparent reference to the shooting of a Christian protester. “He screams, ‘I shot him in the chest.’”
“The Muslim onlookers are clapping and praising him. One of them shouts, ‘By God, you are a man!’”
Incidents of this kind lead Tadros to believe that top army officials told soldiers “to disperse (the protesters)–using force, definitely.” But “no one on the top level … could possibly imagine that the scene would be like this.”
Both Egyptian officials and Western diplomats, he said, must now reckon with the presence of criminal violence in the institution charged with ensuring the rule of law.
“If I were the Egyptian army’s leaders at the moment, I would be really scared and really worried about what happened–not just the international ramifications, and internally, but because of this prospect: if the soldiers don’t follow orders anymore, how do you deal with that?”
Tadros doesn’t think a scenario like the one that happened on Sunday is “likely to happen in other instances” besides those involving a religious minority. Given orders to stop brutalizing a “regular demonstration,” as opposed to a gathering of Coptic Christians, he thinks soldiers “would stop.”
“But I think it has much more to do with the nature of the people they were beating–that is, that they were Christians,” he observed.
“Imagine that those soldiers had not been serving their one year in the army,” Tadros speculated. “Back in their villages, is it possible to imagine that they would have been part of the same crowds in Egyptian villages, that sometimes go and attack Christian homes and burn churches? Is that possible?”
“I would say, yes. They are very much a part of the Egyptian society.”
But Tadros says many US government officials respect the Egyptian army for showing restraint during the protests that brought down Mubarak, and might be too caught up in the idea of the “Arab Spring” to take a closer look.
The simple narrative of a liberating Egyptian revolution is “very appealing to different groups,” he pointed out.
“You would find both neoconservatives and liberals–people across the American spectrum–who found in the Arab Spring something appealing, and for their different reasons, (something) to support.”
“There is a general assumption in the West, that if a country is on the road to a democratic government, then naturally religious freedom will be there,” Tadros observed. “Unfortunately, reality is very different.”
“Even if a democratic Egypt ends up holding regular, free, and fair elections, it might actually not be good for religious freedom.”
In fact, Tadros noted, it might “create the exact opposite situation.”
BP. ROBERT W. FINN–Bp. Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the diocese entered pleas of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse. The charges were in relation to the diocese’s handling of the case of Fr. Shawn Ratigan. (CNS photo/Paul luc Chokota, courtesy Catholic Key)
Bp. Robert W. Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which he heads, entered pleas of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse.
The charges, brought by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in relation to the diocese’s handling of the case of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, were acknowledged in an Oct. 14 statement on the diocesan Web site.
“Bp. Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor’s office” and the independent commission appointed by the diocese to study the matter, said Gerald Handley, the bishop’s attorney. “We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter.”
Bp. Finn said in a statement after diocesan attorneys entered the pleas in court that he “will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”
The charge against Bp. Finn carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. The diocese faces a fine of up to $5,000.
Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, had no comment on the indictment.
Diocesan spokeswoman Rebecca Summers said Oct. 17 that Bp. Finn carried out a full schedule of activities over the weekend, including participating in a fundraising event attended by 500 people, Mass and confession at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and a meeting with senior staff.
Fr. Ratigan was arrested in May on state charges of possessing child pornography. In August, federal prosecutors charged him with producing child pornography. The priest, a former pastor, also is facing accusations made against him in two separate lawsuits filed this summer.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Bp. Finn also have been named in the civil suits, which accuse both of failing to keep Fr. Ratigan away from children apparently after learning disturbing images were found on the priest’s computer and being warned of the priest’s inappropriate behavior around children.
In early September, an independent report commissioned by the diocese to examine its policies and procedures on assessing child sexual abuse allegations found “shortcomings, inaction, and confusing procedures.”
The report also said that “diocesan leaders failed to follow their own policies and procedures for responding to reports” relating to abuse claims.
After the priest’s arrest, Bp. Finn pledged to cooperate with law enforcement authorities and Baker credited him for that during a news conference announcing the indictments. The grand jury handed down the indictments Oct. 6, but they were not made public because Bp. Finn was traveling outside of the country and did not return until late on Oct. 13, Baker said.
Bp. Finn testified before the grand jury Sept. 16. Afterward, he told reporters, “We’re doing the best we can to cooperate with law enforcement.”
Several other diocesan leaders, including spokeswoman Summers, also testified before the grand jury, the Kansas City Star daily newspaper reported.
In the diocesan statement, Bp. Finn said that once the situation with Fr. Ratigan arose, the diocese began to “address the issues that led to this crisis.” He pointed to steps to reinforce and expand diocesan procedures regarding the reporting of child sex abuse. He also appointed an ombudsman charged with having “the responsibility and authority to receive and investigate reports of suspicious, inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct by clergy, employees, or program volunteers.”
A separate vicar for clergy, Fr. Jerome Powers, also was appointed. The role previously had been part of the vicar general’s responsibilities.
Bp. Finn also asked for prayers for himself and the diocese as well as for the “unity of our priests, our people, the parishes, and the Catholic institutions.”
“With deep faith, we will weather this storm and never cease to fulfill our mission, even in moments of adversity,” he said.
Suspicions about Fr. Ratigan first arose in mid-December 2010, when a laptop belonging to the priest, then pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, was turned in to diocesan officials; a computer technician found disturbing photos on the hard drive. The photos included pictures of female children at parish events, including one of a naked female child who was not identifiable.
In May, a search of his family’s home turned up a disk and hard drive with 18 different images of child pornography, Fr. Ratigan was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography in Clay County, followed later by the federal charges.
In a message read in parishes at Masses in early June, Bp. Finn expressed regret for the way the diocese handled information it received about Fr. Ratigan’s activities.
“As bishop, I take full responsibility for these failures and sincerely apologize to you for them. Clearly, we have to do more. Please know that we have — and will continue to cooperate with all local authorities regarding these matters,” he said.
Perhaps one day, without a film crew or a movie script or an air-conditioned trailer full of bottled water and prepackaged snacks, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez will find themselves walking along Spain’s El Camino de Santiago–the way of St. James.
The 800-kilometer historic pilgrimage trail–treaded upon by popes, saints, and seekers from all faith traditions for centuries–will take father and son from the quaint French village of St. Jean Pied de Port through the grandiose Pyrenees Mountains across the sun-drenched northern Spanish region of Galicia to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.
They will perhaps carry backpacks and scallop shells–the sign of St. James and a pilgrim on El Camino–and follow the warm Galician sun by day and brilliant Milky Way by night.
They’ll sleep at the “posadas”–hostels–and have their “credencials del peregrine”–Camino passports–stamped at the spiritual stops along the way.
And just maybe, as Sheen explained, they’ll “go inside and hear the heartbeat and awaken the voice.”
“I’m determined to do it,” said the 71-year-old Sheen during an interview in Cleveland with the Catholic Universe Bulletin, the diocesan newspaper. He and Estevez were in town as part of a cross-country bus tour to promote their movie, “The Way.”
“I long to do it. And seriously to have that time, that freedom, to make the journey physically but also to go inside and hear the heartbeat and awaken the voice and be ruled by that, the transcendent pilgrimage which is inside,” Sheen said. “That I long for. If I only had the time.”
“But you have to promise not to sign any autographs or take pictures,” quipped Estevez to his father, who enjoys spending time with his fans, allowing them to take photos and get autographs no matter how long it takes or how tired he is after shooting a film.
“The Way” tells the story of four Westerners walking the 500-mile pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. It opened nationwide Oct. 7.
Estevez wrote, directed and produced the movie, which is about a widower doctor, Dr. Tom Avery (Sheen), whose grown son (Estevez)–his only child–is killed in a storm while starting to walk El Camino. The doctor decides to reconnect with his faith and express his grief by walking the Camino for his son, bringing his son’s ashes with him. Along the way, he is joined by three other pilgrims who are struggling with their own life challenges and help each other find inner peace.
While placed in a Catholic setting, the film has universal appeal for not only fathers and sons but anyone searching for answers in their lives.
“This movie has the potential to address all the big life themes–grief, loss, family, faith, lapse in faith,” Estevez said.
Back in February Estevez and Sheen were at Georgetown University in Washington for an interview and screening of the movie. At the time they announced they would be conducting a 30-day, 30-city cross-country promotion bus trip from Los Angeles to New York. The tour brought them back to Washington Oct. 1 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
In Cleveland, Estevez said in the interview that he has “always been a storyteller. I started out as a writer. …The acting was somewhat of a vehicle that I used to get there. I really enjoy being on both sides of the camera. I like directing myself. I have a ball when I’m doing it.”
At the film’s Los Angeles premiere Sept. 23, Sheen and Estevez were among the celebrities who strolled down the red carpet outside the Nokia Theatre, where the film was screened as part of the AARP’s Movies for Grownups Film Festival.
In a brief interview on the red carpet, Sheen told The Southern Cross, newspaper of the San Diego Diocese, that the film depicts “the spiritual journey that all of us have to make.”
“We have to do our pilgrimages, and we have to carry all the things that we’ve accumulated along the way,” he said. “Nobody else can carry that stuff, nobody else can go in our shoes. You have to do it alone, but you cannot do it without community.”
Sheen said he grew up hearing stories about “this sacred pilgrimage” from his father, who was born about 80 kilometers from Santiago de Compostela, “and so, I had this kind of romantic image that someday I would do this journey.”
Raised a Catholic, Sheen fell away from his faith for a time but returned to it some years ago and today is active in social justice causes.
In the summer of 2003, while on a break from filming the television series “The West Wing,” Sheen navigated the pilgrimage route by car with his grandson Taylor and a close friend. At their first stop on the Camino, Taylor met the woman who would become his wife.
“That was the first miracle. That inspired me to want to do a story on the Camino,” said Sheen, who suggested Estevez write a screenplay.
In a separate red carpet interview, Estevez noted that pilgrims have been walking the Way of St. James since the ninth century.
“Hollywood has had a hundred years to make a movie about this, and they haven’t,” he said. “It was time.”
Estevez considers his film especially relevant today.
“Our business doesn’t really celebrate faith, and family, and community, and meditation and prayer in a way that it should,” he said, “and I think that there is a hunger now, especially in these economic times. People are banding together in ways that they never have before and certainly leaning on family.”
Contributing to this story was Denis Grasska in Los Angeles.
Retired Abp. Philip M. Hannan of New Orleans, a World War II paratroop chaplain who befriended and secretly counseled John F. Kennedy during and after his historic run for the White House as the first US Catholic president, died Sept. 29 at age 98.
“Abp. Hannan in every way was a good shepherd of the church who was modeled after Christ, not just for Catholics of New Orleans but for the whole community,” Abp. Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans said in a statement.
“We will miss him, but at 98, he has lived a full life. We truly believe in faith that he will feast not just at table of the Eucharist but at the table of the Lord in heaven,” he said.
Abp. Hannan had become increasingly frail in recent months because of a series of strokes and other health problems. He moved in June from his private residence in Covington, La., to Chateau de Notre Dame, a senior apartment complex and elder care facility he first envisioned and then dedicated in 1977 to provide for seniors in archdiocese.
“From the time Abp. Hannan came here right after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, he truly made New Orleans his home,” Abp. Aymond added. “This was his parish and his archdiocese, and it had no boundaries. He was there for anyone and everyone. That was his goal in life.
“He always quoted St. Paul, and he truly believed that his mission and ministry was to preach the Gospel untiringly both in actions and in words.”
Abp. Aymond will receive the body of the late archbishop at 5 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Notre Dame Seminary Chapel. A special evening of prayer will be celebrated by the priests of the archdiocese, followed by a wake service and public viewing. Public viewing will take place at the chapel all day Oct. 4 and until noon Oct. 5, when a horse drawn procession will take the body of Abp. Hannan to St. Louis Cathedral. Public viewing will be held at the cathedral.
Abp. Aymond will celebrate a funeral Mass for Abp. Hannan Oct. 6 at the cathedral, followed by his burial in a crypt beneath the sanctuary.
Abp. Hannan was the third-oldest US bishop, after Abp. Peter L. Gerety of Newark, NJ, who turned 99 July 19, and Aux. Bp. Bernard J. McLaughlin of Buffalo, NY, who will turn 99 Nov. 19. He was one of the two last surviving US bishops to have attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as a bishop. The other is retired Abp. Raymond G. Hunthausen of Seattle, who is 90 years old.
A staunch defender of civil rights and the unborn as well as a fierce proponent during Vatican II of the morality of nuclear deterrence, Abp. Hannan burnished his reputation for fearlessness in 2005 by riding out Hurricane Katrina alone at age 92 in the fortresslike studios of Focus Worldwide, an offshoot of the television network he created in the 1980s.
Although the building’s backup generator failed, the veteran 82nd Airborne chaplain had a ready supply of water, peanut butter and crackers–as well as a trusty 3-wood to ward off potential looters. Five days later, he talked his way through police barricades and drove across the 24-mile causeway bridge over Lake Pontchartrain to give emotional pep talks to weary first responders.
Never the master of understatement, he called it “the easiest drive of my life.”
He was ordained auxiliary bishop of Washington in 1956 and was attending the final session of Vatican II–with the responsibility, because of his background as a Catholic newspaper editor, of coordinating the daily press briefings for English-speaking reporters–when Pope Paul VI appointed him as the 11th archbishop of New Orleans Sept. 29, 1965.
The appointment came 20 days after Hurricane Betsy had flooded and damaged large swaths of New Orleans.
As archbishop, he endeared himself to a Catholic populace that could be wary of outsiders through his plain talk against abortion–which drew the ire of Catholic politicians who supported keeping abortion legal–and through his outreach to the poor, the elderly and those of other faiths.
He was a dynamo in building affordable apartments for the poor and elderly, navigating government channels to finance many of the projects. The result was Christopher Homes, the housing arm of the archdiocese that now provides thousands of affordable apartments.
In 2010, Abp. Hannan published his memoirs, “The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots,” which documented his career as a seminarian in Rome in the 1930s during the buildup to World War II, his service as a paratroop chaplain for the 82nd Airborne and his confidential relationship with Kennedy when he was an auxiliary bishop of Washington.
Abp. Hannan and Kennedy were so close that first lady Jacqueline Kennedy asked him to deliver the eulogy at the assassinated president’s funeral Mass on Nov. 25, 1963, at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington. According to church protocol, that responsibility normally would have fallen to Washington Abp. Patrick O’Boyle, who graciously allowed his auxiliary to deliver the eulogy.
In 1968, Abp. Hannan returned to Washington from New Orleans to deliver the graveside eulogy at the funeral of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. In 1994, he offered graveside prayers at the interment of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Arlington National Cemetery.
Abp. Hannan retired one year after the historic 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to New Orleans, an event he often called the highlight of his life as a priest.
Abp. Hannan started educational television station WLAE in the 1980s and was still filing television reports as late as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. One week after the storm, when an Army helicopter carrying Abp. Paul Cordes, the papal envoy, and several other bishops landed in a field in Biloxi, Miss., Abp. Hannan–along with his cameraman–was waiting for them to conduct interviews for his TV show.
Born in Washington May 20, 1913, Abp. Hannan was the fifth of eight children. His father, an Irish immigrant, came to the United States at 18 and found work as a plumber, building his trade into a flourishing business that weathered even the Great Depression.
A leader in both scholastic work and sports activities, young Philip captained the winning cadet company his senior year at St. John’s College High School in Washington. As graduation approached, he startled his family by announcing that instead of taking the test for the US Military Academy at West Point, he would enter the seminary.
He attended St. Charles College in Catonville, Md., and the Sulpician Seminary in Washington, receiving a master’s degree from The Catholic University of America before going in 1936 to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he experienced firsthand the growing tensions in Europe and the preparations for World War II.
He earned a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and later earned a doctorate in canon law from Catholic University.
Ordained in Rome Dec. 8, 1939, by Bp. Ralph Hayes of Davenport, IA, then rector of the North American College, Father Hannan remained in Rome until the following summer, when all American seminarians were ordered by the US secretary of state to leave to ensure their personal safety. He celebrated his first Mass in the United States June 16, 1940, at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington.
He then served as assistant pastor for two years at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Baltimore.
In 1942, he volunteered as a wartime paratroop chaplain and served with the 505th Parachute Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. After cursory instructions on the ground, he took five practice jumps to earn his official status as a paratroop chaplain.
After his first jump, he was appointed “jump master” to a small crew of greenhorn jumpers and he affectionately became known as “The Jumping Padre.”
In 1945, as the horrors of Nazi prisoner-of-war camps became widely known, Chaplain Hannan liberated a German camp of emaciated prisoners at Wobbelin.
After the war, Father Hannan was assistant pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Washington. In 1948 he was appointed vice chancellor of the newly established Archdiocese of Washington. In 1951 he helped organize the Catholic Standard, the archdiocesan newspaper, and was its editor-in-chief for the next 14 years.
“We mourn the loss of Abp. Hannan, our founding editor and founding father, a great man who served his church and his country with honor and faith,” Mark Zimmermann, editor of the Catholic Standard, said in a statement.
Named a bishop by Pope Pius XII, he was ordained Aug. 28, 1956, in St. Matthew Cathedral. In 1962 Bp. Hannan went to Rome for the first session of Vatican II.
Appointed to two council posts, the Committee on Government of Dioceses and the Committee on Christian Unity, Bp. Hannan also served on the US bishops’ conference committee established to assist secular press members covering the council’s proceedings.
During the second and third sessions of the Vatican Council, Bp. Hannan addressed the council fathers twice, during the session on the role of the laity and the session nuclear warfare. The latter address persuaded the council to accept the morality of nuclear deterrence.
In New Orleans, one area in which Abp. Hannan had the greatest impact on the community was social work. Shortly after his arrival, he walked the streets of a housing development and immediately determined the church needed to institute a social action program.
Beginning in the summer of 1966, with only 25 volunteers, the archdiocesan Social Apostolate program developed into a year-round activity at nearly a dozen centers, focusing on educational, recreational, cultural and social activities.
When the city’s public swimming pools developed mysterious problems–meaning they could not be opened for blacks and whites to swim together–the archbishop decided to make the swimming pool at Notre Dame Seminary available to the children who attended his Summer Witness camps. Abp. Hannan said he received some negative attention from whites but paid it no attention.
The archbishop was successful in bringing to New Orleans the Second Harvest Food Bank program, and the Elderly Supplemental Food Program.
Following the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, through Catholic Charities, was one of the leaders in the nation assisting in the resettlement of thousands of Vietnamese refugees.
In the conclusion of his autobiography, Abp. Hannan wrote: “The road to heaven begins–and ends–with faith in God from whom all blessings, wisdom, tolerance, joy and forgiveness have always–and will ever–flow. Consequently, I have come to believe that only when we actually get to heaven will we truly understand what we accomplished here on earth–especially when it concerns the priesthood.
“From my perspective as a priest–I will accomplish in death what I could not in life because as priests we are most fully alive when we die,” he wrote. “If we don’t feel that way, we certainly have not served the cause of Christ as we were meant to. In the final spiritual analysis, to fulfill the will of God, a priest must die in life as did his own Son. And when that times comes, with the grace of God, I am ready.”