Catholic Press Month coming to an end

As February draws to a close,  so does Catholic Press Month, but you can and should appreciate the Catholic press, which, year-round, in season and out,  gives you news of  not only your local Catholic community but of the church in the world — in print or online. 

We try to routinely highlight great stories in Catholic publications, and I could easily fill up this space with the mention of even a couple. But here’s just a random sampling to check out:

Using social networks to spread the good news, The Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif.

– Priest earns national honor as a police chaplain, Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Orlando, Fla.

– A meal without meat  … can be pretty delicious, Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu.

– Martha Williamson and “Touched by an Angel” still touching lives, Today’s Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

– A slide show on Haitian relief, The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis.

– E-mails from the front, The B.C. Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The top ‘undercover boss’

What? Yet another reality show on network  television?

This one is on CBS and called “Undercover Boss.” Each week the head of some major U.S. company exchanges business attire for the uniform the company’s employees wear and goes “undercover,” using a different name and working in the trenches and taking direction from a superviser as the new kid on the block. The identity of the boss is revealed at the end during a meeting in the board room with the workers featured during the episode.

Some reviewers have panned it. I watched just the first episode, so can’t speak to quality of any of the others. But I felt the the boss featured in the one I watched — Larry O’Donnell, chief operating officer of Waste Management — really took to heart a lot of what he saw that his employers had to endure and was sincere in saying it would make him a better leader. He took what he learned to improve how the company runs its operation and treats its workers, even taking into consideration how job stress can affect a person’s family life. Who could pan that outcome?

I am not writing to tout the show but really to draw attention to what prompted me to even mention it — an Feb. 14 editorial by Tom Dermody, editor of  The Catholic Post, newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., headlined “Pleasing the most important undercover Boss.”

He cleverly used the show as a jumping off point to discuss a first for his diocese: a Feb. 27 faith-based seminar for Catholic business leaders and managers. “The topics to be presented,” he writes, are “as real as it gets for Catholic managers who take their faith seriously: What is the role of faith in the workplace? How do I integrate my faith into my work? What role do ethics and morality play in my work life?

“Important questions indeed,” Dermody continues, “because we all work for an undercover Boss who routinely takes the guise of co-workers, especially those the world sees ‘as least.’ Do we recognize Christ in everyone? Does our faith make a difference in our decisions?”

We’ll stay tuned for a Catholic Post follow-up on the seminar.

Archbishop Gomez heads advisory group looking at Haitian church’s needs

St. Gerard Parish and its elementary school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, were among dozens of church buildings destroyed or made unusable during the Jan. 12 earthquake. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio will lead a small team of U.S. bishops to Haiti March 1-3 to assess how the Jan. 12 earthquake affected the local church.

The archbishop, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, formed a Haiti Advisory Group to focus on the needs of the church in the poor Caribbean nation.

Others joining the advisory group are Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., and Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn, N.Y. Bishop Sansaricq is the only Haitian-American bishop in the U.S.

Archbishop Gomez said in a statement that the visit will help the subcommittee determine how to best meet the needs of Haitians affected by the magnitude 7 earthquake.

The advisory group will focus on long-term development of the Haitian church.

The move is the latest action by the U.S. bishops in their response to what some analysts are now calling the worst natural disaster of recent time. The death toll has climbed to more than 200,000. More than 1 million people remain homeless in the area around the capital of Port-au-Prince.

Soon after the earthquake, the U.S. bishops asked local dioceses to take up a special collection. To date, more than $30 million has been raised in 110 dioceses.

CNS will report on the bishops’ visit next week.

A different view of the Olympics

For a noncommercial take on the Winter Olympics, check out the Olympics blog of Clayton Imoo, director of the Youth Ministry Office for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Imoo creates videos documenting each day’s events. His low-key, humorous approach offsets his occasional lack of footage.  He peppers his videos with references to Lent, and he often includes his family. In his Feb. 14 video, the family goes to downtown Vancouver and has photos taken with a 1976 skiing gold medalist; Feb. 16 they investigate the sport of curling .

Be patient; sometimes the best footage is a minute or two in. My favorite: Feb. 17 he teaches viewers the actual words to the Olympic theme song.

Pope to canonize Mary MacKillop, Andre Bessette Oct. 17

(CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

UPDATE: Click here for full story.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI announced this morning that he would canonize Blessed Mary MacKillop of Australia and Blessed Andre Bessette of Canada, along with four others, at the Vatican Oct. 17.

The announcement came at the end of a “public ordinary consistory,” a very formal ceremony attended by cardinals present in Rome.

(CNS/St. Joseph's Oratory)

Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, read brief biographies of the soon-to-be saints in Latin. And, still in Latin, he asked the pope to formally inscribe the six in the “album of saints.”

The pope responded in Latin, asking for the consensus of the cardinals present. Then he proclaimed — still in Latin — that the canonization ceremony would be Oct. 17.

Turf’s up: Clericus Cup starts fourth season

The Clericus Cup trophy. The team of priests and seminarians who win the final match May 15 will take home the coveted prize. (photo courtesy of Centro Sportivo Italiano)

VATICAN CITY — Seminarians and priests studying in Rome are lacing up their cleats, ready to kick off the fourth season of the Clericus Cup soccer tournament.

The starting matches begin this Saturday when the U.S. seminary in Rome — the North American College — plays against the Brazilian College.

This year 16 teams made up of 373 seminarians and religious from 65 nations will vie for the championship title.

The NAC Martyrs have high hopes this season after running undefeated last year until the final match when they came in second behind the team from the Neocatechumenal Way’s Redemptoris Mater seminary.

Folks who want to keep track of stats, photos and even video footage of the matches can click on the tournament’s new website www.clericuscup.it.

Die hard fans can now “friend” the Clericus Cup on Facebook this year by joining its fan page which will post photos, news and status updates from players and fans.

Catholic scholars ask Pope Benedict to slow process of sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII

Nineteen Catholic scholars of theology and history are asking Pope Benedict XVI to slow the process of the sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII.

Saying that much more research needs to be done on the papacy of the mid-20th century pope, the scholars said in a Feb. 16 letter to Pope Benedict that “history needs distance and perspective” before definitive conclusions can be reached on the role of Pope Pius during World War II and the Holocaust.

Leading the effort are Servite Father John Pawlikowski, professor of ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and Holy Cross Father Kevin Spicer, associate professor of history at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

In an e-mail to CNS last night, Father Pawlikowski told Catholic News Service the scholars are not opposed to Pope Pius’ canonization.

“We sent this letter because we feel that too often the issue of Pius XII is portrayed as one of Jewish concern,” Father Pawlikowski wrote. “We wanted to make it clear that some Catholics who have worked on Holocaust issues have serious concerns about advancing the cause of Pius XII at this time.”

16 February 2010

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Palace, 00120 Vatican City

Your Holiness,

As faithful, practicing Catholics, consecrated and lay, we urgently write to you concerning the cause of Pope Pius XII. We are educators who have conducted research and are currently carrying into effect more research on Catholicism under National Socialism and the Holocaust. The movement to press forward at this time the process of beatification of Pius XII greatly troubles us. Needless to say, the controversy over Pius XII’s actions during the Second World War and the Holocaust is long-standing. Numerous books and articles have been written on the topic. Nevertheless, the scholars still have a great deal of research to complete before final conclusions can be drawn about Pius XII’s behavior during the Holocaust. History needs distance and perspective to arrive at these conclusions. At the moment, scholars eagerly await the opening of papers from Pius XII’s pontificate that you, Holy Father, have so graciously arranged to be made available. At the same time, as researchers, we also realize that there are numerous archives, both secular and ecclesiastical, that scholars have yet to access or consult, many of which might shed more light on Pope Pius’s actions during the Holocaust. Currently, existing research leads us to the view that Pope Pius XII did not issue a clearly worded statement, unconditionally condemning the wholesale slaughter and murder of European Jews. At the same time, some evidence also compels us to see that Pius XII’s diplomatic background encouraged him as head of a neutral state, the Vatican, to assist Jews by means that were not made public during the war. It is essential that further research be conducted to resolve both these questions. As scholars of theology and history, we realize how important the historical critical method is to your own research and we implore you to ensure that such a historical investigation takes place before proceeding with the cause of Pope Pius XII.

A greater issue, of course, arises with the discussion of the beatification of Pius XII. For centuries the Christian churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, have propagated both religious anti-Judaism and religious anti-Semitism, however unintentionally or in ignorance. “Nostra Aetate,” however, ensured that Catholics’ views of Jews would be definitively changed. Your most recent comments, Holy Father, in the synagogue of Rome, endeavored to breach centuries of misunderstandings between Catholics and Jews. Your actions were moving and courageous. Still there is a great deal of work to be done in this area. Mistrust and apprehension still exist. For many Jews and Catholics, Pius XII takes on a role much larger than his historical papacy. In essence, Pius XII has become a symbol of centuries-old Christian anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism which, for example, the late Rev. Edward H. Flannery has documented and spelled out in his work “The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Anti-Semitism.” It is challenging to separate Pope Pius XII from this legacy. Proceeding with the cause of Pope Pius XII, without an exhaustive study of his actions during the Holocaust, might harm Jewish-Catholic relations in a way that cannot be overcome in the foreseeable future.

Holy Father, we implore you, acting on your wisdom as a renowned scholar, professor and teacher, to be patient with the cause of Pope Pius XII. Patience is not passive, it is active; indeed it is condensed strength and courage to bring one forward in hope to a central conclusion and point. In this regard, we humbly ask that scholars be given the access and time to carefully and thoroughly examine the documents relating to the pontificate of Pius XII before embarking on the beatification process. We thank you for hearing us and reflecting upon the urgent concerns of our request. We have the honor to be, Your Holiness,

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