Archbishop’s message of congrats for hometown team

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone congratulates the Giants. (Courtesy/ Catholic San Francisco)

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone congratulates the Giants. (Courtesy/ Catholic San Francisco)

By now the parade is well underway in San Francisco where the Giants are celebrating their World Series victory over the Kansas City Royals with a big parade, to be followed by a celebration on the east steps of City Hall.

Early estimates said a crowd of 2 million was expected to turn out for the festivities.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone was among those rooting for the hometown team during the World Series. He enjoys attending the Giants games during the regular season, although he has only been able to get to a handful of home games.

But as a true Giants fan, during the playoffs, Archbishop Cordileone added orange to the clerical white collar so he was wearing (clerical) black and orange — the Giants colors.

When they brought home the win, he also taped a congratulatory message for the champions:

Pope Francis’ top 10 secrets for living a holier life

VATICAN CITY — As children (and grown-ups) are getting ready for Halloween tonight, Pope Francis has spent the past week getting people ready for the feast of All Saints, celebrated Nov. 1.


A fresco of an angel by Melozzo of Forli is seen in the Vatican Museums in 2010. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

While the saints are meant to be role models for today’s men and women, the pope likes to remind people that holiness is not something completely out of reach — it’s not some “rare privilege for the few,” but an inheritance everyone receives at baptism.

The pope has said, “Saints aren’t superheroes nor were they born perfect. They are like us, each one of us,” but when they experienced the life-changing encounter with God, they never left his side.

So are you ready to be a saint!?

We’ve compiled some of Pope Francis’ Top 10 Secrets of Success for living a holy life in the slideshow below:

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Exhibit marks 400th anniversary of El Greco’s death

By Allana Haynes

WASHINGTON –- As a way to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of religious painter El Greco, the National Gallery of Art is opening an exhibit dedicated to his artwork next month.

The exhibit is to open to the public Nov. 2 and will remain open until Feb. 16 of next year.

"St. Francis Revealing the Stigmata" (Courtesy/National Gallery of Art)

“St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata” (Courtesy/National Gallery of Art)

Prior to the official opening of the exhibit, the press got a sneak peek during a preview Oct. 28. The event was held in the West Hall of the building, beginning with a small breakfast that  was immediately followed by remarks from Earl A. Powell III, who is the director of the National Gallery of Art, Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares of Spain, and David Alan Brown, the gallery’s curator of Italian and Spanish paintings.

The exhibit consists of a collection of 11 of El Greco’s paintings – including, “The Holy Family With St. Anne and the Infant John the Baptist,” “Madonna and Child With St. Martina and St. Agnes,” “St. Martin and The Beggar,” “The Visitation,” “Laocoön,” “St. Ildefonso,” “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata,” “St. Jerome,” “The Repentant St. Peter” and “Christ Cleansing the Temple.”

To complement the paintings, a 30-minute short film called “El Greco: An Artist’s Odyssey” also will be included as a part of the exhibition.

According to Brown, El Greco’s paintings are “displayed in the exhibition based on various themes and issues.” The works come from the gallery’s own collection as well as from two other Washington art museums — the Phillips and Dumbarton Oaks — and from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

In many of El Greco’s paintings, he portrays various scenes from stories known throughout the history of Christianity.

"Madonna and Child With St. Martina and St. Agnes" (Courtesy/National Gallery of Art)

“Madonna and Child With St. Martina and St. Agnes” (Courtesy/National Gallery of Art)

El Greco’s “Madonna and the Child with Saint Martina and Saint Agnes” and “ St. Martin and the Beggar” are the two largest paintings in the exhibition, both measuring approximately 76 x 40 inches, according to the National Gallery of Art.
Both of these paintings used to hang opposite one another in the Chapel of St. Joseph in Toledo, Spain. The painting “Madonna and the Child With St. Martina and St. Agnes,” shows Mary and the child Jesus framed by angels and a billow of clouds. St. Agnes is on the right holding the lamb that appeared at her tomb after her death. Beside her, standing by a lion, is believed to be either St. Martina or St. Thekla, who appeared to St. Martin in visions.

The painting “St. Martin and the Beggar” shows St. Martin of Tours as a soldier when the Romans ruled what is present-day France. In the painting, the saint is on a horse, cutting his cloak in half to share with a beggar on the side of the road. The painting is a visual representation of the scriptural passage, “What thou hast done for the poor man, thou hast done for me.”

El Greco’s paintings have been described as “complicated and contradictory,” appealing to only certain people, and “possessing a haunting intensity” that is demonstrated with long wiry figures and strong contrasts of color and light.

El Greco is regarded as a “master painter” whose style, the National Gallery of Art notes, “captures the religious fervor” of the Counter-Reformation in Spain during the 16th century.

In midst of refugee hardship, there is kindness and laughter

Editor’s Note: The author is international editor at Catholic News Service and is on a reporting trip to the Middle East sponsored by Catholic Relief Services.

AMMAN, Jordan – The stories sound so much alike one might think they were rehearsed, except for the pain in the refugees’ eyes.

Syrian refugee children attend church-backed preschool program in Jordan. (CNS/Barb Fraze)

Syrian refugee children attend church-backed preschool program in Jordan. (CNS/Barb Fraze)

The Iraqis left Mosul and surrounding villages with only the clothes on their back after receiving ultimatums from Islamic State fighters. Eventually, they all camped out in Irbil, Iraq, before making their way to Jordan.

The Syrians never ever dreamed they would be forced to leave their homes. Many were taken by bus to the border of Jordan and had to cross over at night.

After editing story after story from the Middle East, there is something very humbling about looking into a person’s eyes and seeing pain and despair. It is touching to see how families have tried to make a home, squeezed into small spaces separated by curtains and wood, sharing two toilets, a urinal and a church hall with 38 other people.

Catholic Relief Services brought me to visit the refugees as a 2014 Egan Fellow. It’s a quick trip, with long days and lots of direct contact with people who tell similar stories.

Yet in the midst of tales of hardship are people with hope and kindness. Syrian Muslim women in northern Jordan expressed thanks for a church-supported school program. Their children performed for visitors, as seen in the video below. (Disclaimer: Cell phone videos in low light and shot by jetlagged journalists are not up to normal Catholic News Service standards.)

One Syrian couple invited us into their apartment even though the man’s sister-in-law had died that morning.

Teens from Mosul, Iraq,  pose for a selfie in Amman, Jordan, (CNS/Barb Fraze)

Teens from Mosul, Iraq, pose for a selfie in Amman, Jordan, (CNS/Barb Fraze)

And, in moments with laughter, Iraqi teens posed for selfies with journalists.

Throughout the last two days, families repeatedly asked if we could help them get resettled. One man even presented me with a list of the names and ages of his family members.

It’s heartbreaking to tell them that all I can do is tell their stories. So in the next few weeks, I will try to do just that for them.

Cardinal Pell calls for ‘no doctrinal back-flips’ at next family synod

By Robert Duncan
Catholic News Service

(UPDATED Monday, Oct. 27)

ROME (CNS) – Looking ahead to the October 2015 world Synod of Bishops on the family, Cardinal George Pell said the task for Catholics “over the next 12 months” is to explain “the necessity of conversion, the nature of the Mass,” and “the purity of heart the Scriptures require of us to receive holy Communion.”

Cardinal Pell (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Pell (CNS/Paul Haring)

The cardinal’s comments came days after the conclusion of the 2014 extraordinary synod on the family, which debated making it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

“We will be counterproductive if we have anger or hate in our hearts, if we lapse into sterile polemics against a surprisingly small number of Catholic opponents,” the cardinal wrote.

Cardinal Pell’s remarks came in a homily he had prepared for a celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form Oct. 24 at Rome’s Church of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims.

The cardinal was unable to celebrate the liturgy, part of the Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome for devotees of the traditional Latin Mass, on account of bronchitis. In an additional prepared text, he assured those present that his sickness was the only reason he was unable to attend.

In the cardinal’s absence, his personal secretary Father Mark Withoos celebrated the Mass and read the homily.

The “college of bishops and all synods work by consensus,” Cardinal Pell wrote. Before next October, Catholics have to work to build a consensus “out of the present divisions,” he wrote.

“Pastoral practice and teachings can only be change by consensus,” he wrote.

“Doctrine does develop, we understand truth more deeply, but there are no doctrinal back-flips in Catholic history,” the cardinal wrote. “The apostolic tradition announced first by Christ and founded in the Scriptures is the touchstone for truth and genuine pastoral practice.”

“We, and especially you young people, must live this in love, giving reason for your hope,” he wrote. “This is a unique opportunity, which we must seize in God’s name.”

Cardinal Pell also wrote about the importance of the papacy in defending and developing doctrine.

“The role of the successor of St. Peter has always been vital to Christian and Catholic life, especially as the touchstone of doctrinal fidelity and as a resolver of disputes, pastoral as well as doctrinal,” the cardinal wrote.

“The church is not built on the rock of Peter’s faith,” he wrote, “but on Peter himself, despite his faults and failings.”

“Pope Francis is the 266th pope and history has seen 37 false or antipopes,” he wrote.

“The story of the popes is stranger than fiction,” the cardinal wrote, and today “we have one of the more unusual popes in history, enjoying almost unprecedented popularity. He is doing a marvelous job backing the financial reforms,” he wrote

Cardinal Pell concluded his written remarks with a prayer “I was taught as a child: May the Lord preserve the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and give him life. Keep him safe on earth and deliver him not up into the hands of his enemies.”

Life of slain journalist James Foley celebrated across U.S.

By Sarah McCarthy

WASHINGTON  –   On the weekend that would have marked journalist James Foley’s 41st birthday Oct. 18, his life was instead celebrated in prayer services and memorials across the country.

Foley, a 1996 graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, was vocal about his faith and the strength he drew from his alma mater. In April 2011, as Foley was covering the raging civil war in Libya, militants loyal to Moammar Gadhafi captured him and two other journalists. They spent 44 days detained alongside other political prisoners. During this time, Foley was given the opportunity to call his mother. The conversation between mother and son, and Foley’s evident faith, were made public in an article Foley wrote for the fall 2011 edition of Marquette Magazine that was titled “Phone Call Home.”

James Foley pictured in 2011 photo in Boston. (CNS photo/Steve Senne, AP photo via Marquette University)

James Foley pictured in 2011 photo in Boston. (CNS photo/Steve Senne, AP photo via Marquette University)

“If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us,” he said. “It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”

Beginning Oct. 16, people at more than 20 universities across the country bore witness to that same sense of faith as they came together in remembrance of Foley, who was killed in Syria Aug.19. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, or AJCU, invited its member institutions to recognize Foley’s contributions toward justice and freedom of the press and commemorate others killed in war by offering a Mass or interfaith prayer service in their honor. Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola Marymount and Marquette were just several of the universities that celebrated Foley’s legacy and his devotion to God.

In a press release about the initiative, the AJCU said Foley was “one of our own,” and the organization’s president, Jesuit Father Michael J. Sheeran, called him “an American hero.”

“We are proud to lead this initiative that unites our Jesuit colleges and universities in solidarity, and honors the memory of a Jesuit alumnus who was a true man for others,” he said.

At an Oct. 19 Mass celebrated at his hometown parish, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Rochester, N.H., Father Marc Montminy, a close family friend, said that “Jimmy played a pivotal role in the lives of so many” during his life. The priest said he always was sustained “by a deep faith” and his goodness called him to do for others and report the truth of their lives “so the entire world would know what was happening.”

In “Phone Call Home,” Foley related his experience as a captive and the numbness he felt after seeing one of his colleagues get killed. One of the more poignant effects of the piece is the realization, on the part of both Foley and the reader, that it was the enduring power of prayer that sustained Foley through his imprisonment.

“I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed,” Foley said. “It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Mary’s off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.”

Foley also referenced a speech given by one of his friends at a Marquette vigil that was held for him before he was liberated in May 2011. (He returned home to New Hampshire but seven months later returned to Syria). He noted it was “just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth.” He also expressed how praying with his colleague and fellow captive bolstered his faith under duress.

“It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone,” he said.

It is fitting, then, that to remember Foley’s humble service in Christ, hundreds of people gathered together to continue that conversation, manifesting the indelible power of prayer in times of peril, loss, and celebration.

German Cardinal Marx shares his perspective on synod

Cardinal Marx (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Marx (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Most members of the Synod of Bishops on the family are enjoying the strangely warm Roman weather; only members of the groups drafting the synod’s message to the Catholic faithful and drafting its final report were working this morning.

But the media is still here in force and the Vatican press office wanted to give them more views of what happened inside and what will happen next. Tomorrow morning synod members will vote on the message and, in the evening, they will vote on the report.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, spoke to reporters today and focused on the report as the final step only of this stage of the discussion. For the next year, Catholic bishops around the world will be asked to study and discuss the themes and consult with their faithful in preparation for the next step: the world Synod of Bishops in October 2015.

Cardinal Marx was one of those bishops at the synod looking particularly for new ways to reach out to Catholics living in family situations that do not meet the ideals taught by the Catholic Church. As a representative of the German bishops’ conference, for example, he said a significant majority of German bishops voted to back “the question” raised by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who asked about possible ways to admit to Communion some Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried, but who do not have an annulment.

Still, he said, he is not disappointed by the discussion or the opposition of some synod members to the question. The discussion was important, it was mature and, he said, it deals with matters that will continue to be studied by pastors, theologians and canon lawyers.

Interestingly enough, the whole “three steps forward, two steps back” has Catholic roots. It’s part of a procession in Echternach, Luxembourg.

Pope Francis, Cardinal Marx said, has not called two synods simply so bishops listen to one another and then decide, “we can only repeat what we have always said.”

Cardinal Marx told reporters the synod process is important for helping the Catholic Church and its pastors find more compassionate, accurate language for its teaching on morality. It must be clear and faithful to the church’s tradition, he said, must it also must be realistic about how the way many men and women live is not completely good or completely bad.

Exclusion is not the language of the church,” he said. The church cannot say divorced and civilly remarried couples are “second-class” Christians and it cannot say there is no way for a homosexual person to experience the Gospel.


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