‘Archbishop Hannan never stopped proclaiming the Gospel’

Archbishop Hannan in 1985. (Photo by Frank H. Methe III/Clarion Herald)

“One of the great blessings of my life was to sit with him over the course of two years, beginning in 2007 when he was 94, and let him tell his stories,” Finney notes. “Those stories and the ones he told his first cousin Nancy Collins formed the basis of his autobiography, ‘The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots.’”

“He dreamed – big and often,” Finney says. “His teachers, including a Brother Luke at St. John’s High School in Washington, caught on to that very quickly. ‘Hannan,’ Brother Luke told him one day, ‘you get too many ideas. Skip every third idea.’

“But that’s the trouble with dreamers. They keep dreaming, and if they have enough conviction, it becomes a reality.”

The Clarion Herald website has a lengthy obituary on the archbishop and also has a number of other tributes to Archbishop Hannan, including a reflection by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and some thoughts from the owner of the Saints, Tom Benson.

Tropical storm damage still felt on East Coast

New Jersey residents take boat through floodwater. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Although the late summer rain storms are no longer a major topic of the news cycle,  the damage they caused are still at the forefront for many on the East Coast.

A Sept.22 story in The Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., brings this home with its account of ongoing cleanup efforts. Father Thomas Holmes, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Middleburgh, said he did not have hot water for two weeks after the water heater was damaged when the basement flooded. Although he was happy to report no other significant damage, he could not say the same thing for about 20 families in his parish whose homes were hit hard by the storms and in some cases rendered unliveable.

He also has seen much good will since the storm and said he has been “totally impressed” with donations from diocesan parishes. “They’re calling up to say, ‘We want to send you money’ — and it’s not little money, it’s big money. It’s really an opportunity to show what we’re all about,” he said.

Our Lady of the Valley Parish is only accepting monetary donations since it has no storage space. Parishioners also have been doling out 300 to 400 meals each day to storm victims and relief workers at the parish hall.

“There’s a lot of goodness that’s come out of this,” Father Holmes said.

Push on to get Trafficking Victims Protection Act reauthorized

Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are urging Congress to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act first passed in 2000.

The agencies teamed up under the Catholics Confront Global Poverty campaign to take their message to advocates across the country in a webcast Sept.28.

Last authorized in 2008, the act expires Sept. 30. But funding for programs aiding trafficking victims is expected to continue under a continuing resolution until a final vote in the both houses of Congress occurs in October.

Webcast participants were urged to call upon Congress to support another reauthorization. In the House of Representatives, the bills involved are HR 2830 and HR 2759. The companion bill in the Senate is S 1301.

“The politics have changed a lot since 2008,” said Jill Marie Gerschutz, senior legislative adviser to CRS, “so this is not a slam dunk even though one might think trafficking is an issue that must be overcome.”

CRS and the USCCB also want to see the bill add provisions to improve funding for anti-trafficking and victim assistance programs and boost screening at U.S. borders.

The webcast reviewed how people are trafficked for sexual slavery and forced labor. An estimated 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. annually, according to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 from the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Domestically, another 100,000 people are trafficked, largely in the sex trade with the highest caseloads in Florida, New York and the District of Columbia, the report said.

CRS has developed numerous resources for its website that can be used to by parishes, schools, organizations and advocacy groups to educate members about the moral issues stemming from human trafficking, a practice many have called modern day slavery.

Visiting Broadway soon? Stop in at St. Malachy’s — The Actors’ Chapel

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Times Square in the heart of New York City, St. Malachy’s Church — The Actors’ Chapel is a haven of quiet and prayer. It is also an active parish where stars and ordinary New Yorkers (if any New Yorker can be called ordinary) rub shoulders throughout the week. The young, peripatetic pastor, Father Richard Baker, keeps the parish hopping with his formidable personality, lots of panache and great pastoral skill.

St. Malachy's pastor, Father Richard Baker. (CNS/Greg Shemitz)

St. Malachy’s is also home to the New York office of Catholic News Service.

CNS profiled the parish last December. Reporter Beth Griffin described the glitterati this way:

Established in 1902, St. Malachy’s gained fame as a spiritual home for members of the entertainment community, beginning in the 1920s. Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were married at St. Malachy’s in 1929, and other notable worshippers included Rudolph Valentino, George M. Cohan, Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, Danny Thomas and Rosalind Russell. Fred Allen, Don Ameche, Cyril Ritchard and Jimmy Durante took their turns as altar servers.

This week, reporter Raphael Pallais of GloboMaestro, featured St. Malachy’s in this video. It’s a great slice of New York Catholic life.

Check it out, and stop in the next time you’re between Broadway shows.

At 40, Center of Concern focuses on synod’s ‘Justice in the World’

A 10-minute video on the Center of Concern’s website looks back 40 years to the release of “Justice in the World,” the document produced at the 1971 Synod of Bishops.

The document addressed key concerns of Catholic bishops from around the world about the world economy and the need to ensure that justice prevailed for the poorest people.

The video features commentary about the document from Jesuit Father Jim Hug, the center’s president, and Dominican Sister Maria Riley, senior adviser to the center’s Global Women’s Project.

It comes as the Center of Concern observes its own 40th anniversary.

Such a center to study issues relating to international development, justice and peace from a Christian perspective was first envisioned by Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe, then superior general of the Society of Jesus, and then-Bishop Joseph Bernardin (later cardinal), general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference at the time. They announced the establishment of the center May 4, 1971 at a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General U Thant.

In the video, Father Hug called the synod’s document “insightful and prophetic” because the concerns raised then about the increased concentration of wealth and the growing consumption of resources by countries of the global North are even more pronounced today. He quoted from the document:

It is impossible to see what right the richer nations have to keep up their claim to increase their own material demands, if the consequence is either that others remain in misery or that the danger of destroying the very physical foundations of life on earth is precipitated.

“We face that challenge today,” he observed.

Sister Maria explained in the video how the bishops recognized that while the traditional powers of the world had withdrawn from their former colonies in Africa, Asia and South America, they still harbored concerns about a new form of neo-colonialism emerging. She said the dangers the bishops envisioned 40 years ago have come true today through economic globalization and the lingering world financial crisis “which holds the developing countries of the South hostage” because of the debt they have accumulated on international bank loans.

“The bishops call for a new kind of development,” she said, “one that accepts modernization insofar as it really does address the needs of countries of the South and the well-being of the people rather than on profit maximization and wealth accumulation.”

The video offers a good introduction to the 40-year-old document and helps frame the church’s stance on the importance of global justice in the 21st century.

Arrest after air gun incident in Erfurt, where pope’s celebrating Mass

FREIBURG, Germany — About two hours before Pope Benedict XVI arrived to celebrate Mass in the cathedral square in Erfurt, police arrested a man who fired an air gun. Initial news reports said the man was at one of the far back entrances to the cathedral square.

A police spokesman in Freiburg, however, just reported that the shooter was far from the square and his actions were not directed at the pope. The spokesman said he was told the shooter told the arresting officers that he was protesting the massive police presence in Erfurt.

The incident occurred just a few hours before the pope was scheduled to arrive in Freiburg, the final leg of his four-day trip. The Freiburg police spokesman said he and his colleagues had not changed their security plans, “but of course, it is on our minds. Every officer will be aware” of what happened in Erfurt.

John Thavis, traveling on the pope’s plane, reported from Erfurt this statement from Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman: “There is no worry among members of the papal entourage.”

Father Lombardi said he was told a man several hundred yards from the altar fired a compressed-air gun, slightly injuring a private security guard. The man was arrested.

The spokesman told reporters that the pope was not informed about the incident.

ICCR honors two for outstanding service in corporate social responsibility

Two long-time advocates for corporate social responsibility were honored by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility last night.

Ursuline Sister Valerie Heinonen and attorney Paul Neuhauser were the first recipients of the Legacy Award from the organization, which since 1971 as prodded large corporations to act in the best interests of local communities, the world’s poor and the environment.

Sister Valerie, who was recently hospitalized, has been active in the corporate responsibility movement for 35 years when she joined the ICCR staff. After 20 years, which included a stint as interim executive director, she began serving as a consultant on corporate responsibility to her order, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, the Dominican Sisters of Hope and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

In a 2005 New York Times article on her work, she was quoted saying that “part of what we are doing is planting seeds.”

Neuhauser, a founding member of the ICCR, serves as its resident legal adviser. Professor emeritus in the University of Iowa’s College of Law, Neuhauser has been the organization’s principal contact with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He has been called one of the “giants of shareholder activism” by Broc Romanek, editor of TheCorporateCounsel.net.

The awards were presented in New York during the organization’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Documentary explores nonviolence as key to resolving Israeli-Palestinian divide

A Palestinian boy plasters black and white photographs taken by French street artist JR of Palestinians on Israel's controversial separation barrier in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Sept. 9. The project entails having Palestinian and Israeli portraits taken, then printed and pasted onto walls in Israel and the West Bank, as a way of making the two peoples view each other on a “basic level, as normal individuals.” (CNS/Reuters)

Sami Awad believes peace among Palestinians and Israelis ultimately can be achieved only through nonviolent means.

In a culture permeated by violence for generations, the Palestinian evangelical Christian knows that’s a tall order. But through the Holy Land Trust, which Awad co-founded in 1998 to promote Palestinian independence through nonviolent means, he sees a growing interest in the use of peaceful means to protest Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and the eventual resolution to the long simmering conflict.

Awad’s vision is profiled in the documentary film “Little Town of Bethlehem,” which made its online debut last night to a worldwide audience on the United Nations’ International Day of Peace in a program originating at The Catholic University of America.

The film opened a 12-day period being billed as Global Voices of Nonviolence in which communities around the world are focusing on peace and nonviolence in their lives. The period ends on the U.N.’s International Day of Nonviolence Oct. 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement who pioneered the practice of nonviolence to cause political change.

Director Jim Hanon was on hand for the debut of the 90-minute documentary which also tells the story of two other men who are seeking peace in the Middle East through nonviolence. He called for people to overcome their fear of “the other.”

“When we can overcome our fears and face what we need to face, we can become more human and extend humanity to others,” he said.

Hanon’s film also featured Yonatan Shapira, a Jew who once was a helicopter pilot in the Israeli Defense Forces until he signed a document saying he refused to fly missions that could result in civilian casualties, and Ahmad Al’azzeh, a Palestinian Muslim who trains others in peaceful activism as head of the nonviolence program at Holy Land Trust.

During a panel discussion after the showing, Awad said the biggest challenge of his work comes not from Palestinians who have lived under Israeli occupation for decades but from Christians who are skeptical that nonviolence will work.

“It is a big challenge how we as Christians respond to our own texts in the Bible on nonviolence,” he said.

Panelist Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of international relations at The Catholic University of America, pointed to the many references to peace found in the prayers and responses at Mass and in Scripture.

“The problem is,” she said, “how do you get our Christian communities to live the language of our faith?”

Other panelists included Atalia Omer, assistant professor of religion, conflict and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, who is Jewish, and Anas Malik, associate professor of political science at Xavier University, who is Muslim.

The program was sponsored by CUA’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.

Pope, on plane to Germany, says abuse scandal has driven some from church

ON THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO GERMANY — Pope Benedict XVI met with reporters this morning aboard the papal plane to Germany. He answered four questions: one in German and three in Italian.

The pope was asked about the number of German Catholics formally renouncing their membership in the church. He said people leave for a number of reasons and the formal declaration often is the last step in a long process of moving away from the Catholic community.

Some, he said, have left because of the revelation of “terrible scandals” involving clerical sexual abuse, especially if the scandals have affected people close to them.

He said the church is “the Lord’s net” and like any fisherman’s net, there can be bad fish. Catholic leaders need to explain and help people understand the nature of the church as the people of God and “learn to withstand even these scandals and work against these scandals from the inside.”

Pope Benedict, who has been in Rome for some 30 years, was asked if he still feels German. He said, yes, a person’s cultural roots can’t be cut easily and, besides, most of the books he reads are written in German.

Asked about the planned protests in Germany during his visit, the pope said they were normal in a secularized, democratic society.

But, he said, there are also “great expectations and great love for the pope in Germany.”

The pope added that in many sectors of the German population, there is a growing sense of a need for a moral voice in society.

Rare voice: Flannery O’Connor reads from “Good Man”

Author Flannery O’Connor lingers long in Southern Catholic letters. One of the best-known and strongest Catholic apologists during the 20th century, along with fellow Southerner Walker Percy and only a handful of others, she remains today widely read and taught. She was a prodigious writer of novels, short stories and essays.

Born in Savannah in 1925, of parents from two of Georgia’s oldest Catholic families, she spent the latter part of her life in Milledgeville, Ga., where she struggled with a debilitating disease, systemic lupus erythematosus. Her father had died of it in her youth, and the disease would claim her in 1964 at age 39.

There is an entire academic industry around O’Connor. Next month, Loyola University Chicago will hold a three-day symposium on her life, work and influence on modern Catholic thought.

In New Yorker magazine’s The Book Bench, writer Mark O’Connell posted a blog this week about O’Connor and turned up a rare recording of her reading an excerpt from her acclaimed short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The reading is from a 1959 writers’ conference at Vanderbilt University.

It is a remarkable find of the voice of a remarkable Catholic writer, possibly the finest of her generation.

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