Pope appoints Abp. Viganò as new US nuncio

NEW APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO US--Italian Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano, the new apostolic nuncio to the US, is pictured at his residence at the Vatican Oct. 20. He succeeds the late Abp. Pietro Sambi. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, 70, was appointed Oct. 19 by Pope Benedict XVI to serve as his official representative to the US.

Abp. Timothy M. Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), called the appointment “yet another sign” of the great care the pope has for the US and its Catholic community.

“As the personal representative of our Holy Father, you will serve as a continuing sign to us of that source of renewal and hope that Pope Benedict brought to our country,” said Abp. Dolan in an Oct. 19 letter welcoming the new nuncio.

Abp. Viganò will succeed Abp. Pietro Sambi, who died in July from complications that developed after he underwent lung surgery.

As papal nuncio, he will serve as the pope’s personal representative to the Church in the US. He will carry out diplomatic duties and will also play an important role in selecting new bishops in the US

The position of papal nuncio to the US is viewed as a key diplomatic position for the Vatican.

Born in the northern Italian town of Varese, Abp. Viganò was ordained a priest in 1968 and entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1973. He has served in diplomatic missions to Iraq, Great Britain and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

The archbishop has also served as the nuncio to Nigeria, and he has worked for more than a decade in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

Most recently, he has served for two years as secretary-general of the commission governing the Vatican city-state.

In his Oct. 19 letter, Abp. Dolan recalled Pope Benedict’s comments during his 2008 visit to the US. The Holy Father noted the “excellent contribution” of American Catholics to their country and expressed hope that his visit might bring “renewal and hope for the Church in the United States.”

ABP. VIGANO APPOINTED NEW APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO US--Italian Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano, the new apostolic nuncio to the US, is pictured at his residence at the Vatican Oct. 20. He succeeds the late Abp. Pietro Sambi. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The archbishop pledged the “prayerful support” of the US bishops as Abp. Viganò begins his mission of continuing that renewal of the American Church.

With nearly four decades of diplomatic service for the Holy See, the new papal nuncio possesses “a depth of understanding of the role of the Church in a pluralistic society,” said Abp. Dolan.

He added that the Church in the US will benefit from Abp. Viganò’s “training in both canon law and civil law.”

“They will enable you to see the intricacies involved in representing the Holy Father in both the Church and diplomatic worlds, especially now as they are lived out in America’s democratic society,” he said.

Abp. Dolan also invited the new nuncio to attend the fall plenary session of the USCCB in Baltimore this November.

“The meeting is a moment of prayer, business, and fellowship and we look forward to welcoming you on this occasion,” he said.

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On Bl. John Paul’s first feast, sister begins spreading his charism

FEAST DAY OF BLESSED JOHN PAUL II--People watched a video about Blessed John Paul II during a vigil marking his feast day outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Oct. 22, the first observance of the Polish pope's feast. The date marks the anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate in 1978. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On Oct. 22, the first “John Paul II sister” launched a year-long series of talks on the life, charism, and spirituality of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

“Over a number of years, I’ve been preparing a lot of material that relates to John Paul II’s charism and his spirituality and his writings in different areas,” Sr. Bernadette Pike, MG, said.

Her series of talks, entitled “Living the Legacy,” is intended to present this information to lay people who are interested in living after the example of the late pontiff.

As a John Paul II sister, Sr. Bernadette is a member of the broader group, the Missionaries of the Gospel. The community is still in its very early stages, with its first members still receiving their own formation.

The Oct. 22 launch date for her talks was chosen to correspond with the first official celebration of Bl. John Paul II’s feast day in some dioceses.

The possibility of adding the feast day of Bl. John Paul II to the Church calendar for the US will be discussed at the upcoming November meeting of the US bishops.

Until then, it is up to each bishop to decide if the feast day will be celebrated in their diocese. Several dioceses, including Rome, Krakow, and Washington, DC, will celebrate Oct. 22, 2011 as the first official memorial of Bl. John Paul II.

Sr. Bernadette hopes that her talks will offer listeners “a deeper insight into where the Holy Father was coming from and what the Holy Spirit was trying to do through him in order to renew the Church.”

The international talks, which will be given bi-weekly for a year, will not yet be broadcast publicly but will instead be held through a video conference. Sr. Bernadette said that she has sent a link to the conference to people across the world who have expressed interest in participating in it.

Originally from Australia, Sr. Bernadette said the idea of the John Paul II sisters was initially proposed in 2004.

Abp. Barry James Hickey of Perth, Australia, was supportive of the idea, but over the course of several months of discussion and prayer, it was determined that the community should include more than just the sisters. Lay men and women had expressed interest in living after the example of John Paul II, and a discussion of establishing the John Paul II priests and brothers had also arisen.

The decision was made that a larger community should be established to encompass the various groups wishing to live the charism of John Paul II. With the guidance of Abp. Hickey, the Missionaries of the Gospel were officially established on June 23, 2007.

Sr. Bernadette made her final vows as the first John Paul II sister on Oct. 16, 2008. Two other women who had been in formation with her became ill and had to leave the community.

Although Sr. Bernadette is now the only John Paul II sister, she said that she is in contact with several other women who are interested in joining the community.

FEAST DAY OF BLESSED JOHN PAUL II--People gathered for a vigil marking the feast day of Blessed John Paul II outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Oct. 22, the first observance of the Polish pope's feast. The date marks the anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate in 1978. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Currently, Sr. Bernadette is living in Washington, DC, where she has been sent to study at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences for two years. She explained that she is in a program that integrates psychology, philosophy, and theology with the intent of gaining a fuller understanding of the human person in order to better evangelize and form people in the way that John Paul II did.

Sr. Bernadette said her own initial encounters with John Paul II took place through other people. She said that she was particularly struck by the stories and pictures of her friends who had gone to Rome for World Youth Day in 2000.

She was impressed by the pope’s way of “personally relating to people and being present with them and bringing Christ to them in such a relevant, tangible way.”

At the time, Sr. Bernadette was returning to her faith. She said that her encounters with the pope through her friends helped her to “experience Christ” and grow deeper in her faith.

As she learned more about John Paul II, she realized that she was drawn toward his “thought and his way of doing things” and wanted to spend her whole life shaping and forming people in the way that he did.

When Sr. Bernadette met John Paul II in 2004, her appreciation for him was already strong.

She spoke of the incredible experience of simply seeing “his way of being with others and with God.”

At the pope’s beatification on May 1, 2011, Sr. Bernadette read the second reading.

She believes that the legacy of Pope John Paul II will reach far into the future of the Church.

“I think it will completely revolutionize the way the Church does everything,” she said.

“I know that’s a really bold statement,” she added, explaining that she believes that people have only begun to understand “the gift that the Church received through John Paul II.”

More information about the Missionaries of the Gospel can be found at: http://www.mg.org.au.

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Texas, Missouri bishops make World Series wager

ARCHBISHOP GETS A 'TIP' FROM FREDBIRD--St. Louis Abp. Robert J. Carlson recently shared a fun moment with St. Louis Cardinals mascot Fredbird. Bishops from the home dioceses of the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals made a wager on the outcome of the 2011 World Series. (Photo courtesy St. Louis Review)

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.

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