Catholic press ‘relic’ visits with communicators in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, always in fine humor, visited with Catholic communications professionals in his first trip since returning to Philadelphia from the Vatican in February.

The cardinal, who has leukemia, joined the gala at the Carnegie Museums as the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary. The cardinal sat in a chair to deliver his remarks after a glowing introduction by former CPA President Bob Zyskowski.

“It’s nice to be canonized without the inconvenience of dying,” the archbishop said, adding, “Pardon me for sitting, but I’m usually in bed by this time.”

The cardinal, who served as head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications for more than 23 years, first worked at The Catholic Standard and Times in Philadelphia in the 1960s and served as its editor 1970-84, when he was called to the Vatican. He told the gathering he had been involved in the CPA for 51 of its 100 years.

“I’m a relic,” he quipped.

The cardinal interspersed his prepared remarks with anecdotes from his career, sending Catholic communicators from the U.S., Canada, South Africa and even Australia into fits of laughter. But between the one-liners and tales of near-disasters on live radio and cafeteria duty for 800 high-school boys, the cardinal said he believed “the Catholic press continues to have a very important role to play in the work of the church in North America today.”

“Like the crucifix above the bed in every Catholic home, a Catholic publication in the living room or the family room is a continuing reminder of our identity as Catholics,” he said.

He added that “the Catholic press continues to have an important role in the work of information, formation, inspiration and continuing Catholic education.”

The cardinal also saluted the work of Catholic News Service.

“I continue to think that it is the best and most complete source of Catholic information in the world today,” he said seriously, then added, “I’ve accepted no payment for that statement.”

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