Pope names veteran diplomat Vatican Secretary of State

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, a longtime official in the Vatican secretariat of state and nuncio in Venezuela since 2009, to be his secretary of state.

Although Pope Francis has not been afraid to break with convention during his brief pontificate, the appointment of a seasoned member of the diplomatic corps signals a return to a longstanding tradition.

On Oct. 15 Archbishop Parolin will succeed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, who came to the post in 2006 after serving as archbishop of Genoa, Italy.

The secretary of state is the pope’s closest collaborator, coordinating the work of the entire Roman Curia, overseeing the operation of the Vatican press office and newspaper, coordinating the preparation and publication of papal documents, and supervising the work of Vatican nuncios both in their relations with the Catholic communities in individual countries and with their governments.

However, in discussions about the reform and the reorganization of the curia, many observers have mentioned the possibility of the secretary of state’s role changing as well. Because it is so broad — covering the internal workings of the Vatican, international church affairs and foreign relations — Cardinal Bertone often was blamed, at least by the press, when things went wrong during Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

Archbishop Parolin was born Jan. 17, 1955, in Schiavon, Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1980. He studied at the Vatican diplomatic academy and in 1986 began working at Vatican embassies, serving in Nigeria and in Mexico before moving to the offices of the Vatican Secretariat of State. He was named undersecretary for foreign relations in 2002.

Archbishop Parolin greeting well-wishers at the end of Mass in 2009. Pope Benedict XVI had just ordained him a bishop. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Parolin greeting well-wishers at the end of Mass in 2009. Pope Benedict XVI had just ordained him a bishop. (CNS/Paul Haring)

For years, Archbishop Parolin led Vatican delegations to Vietnam each year to discuss church-state issues with the country’s communist government, a process that that eventually led to Vietnam’s acceptance of a non-resident papal representative to the country. The move is seen as a step toward establishing full diplomatic relations.

While at the Vatican, Archbishop Parolin also represented the Vatican at a variety of international conferences on climate change, on human trafficking and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including leading the Vatican delegation to the 2007 Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Md.

At a press conference in 2006, Archbishop Parolin said Vatican nuncios and papal representatives play an important role “in defending the human being” and in strengthening the local churches, especially in regions where Christians face poverty, discrimination or other hardships.

The Vatican’s presence around the world through its nuncios shows people that the church and the pope are always near, that Christians — no matter how small their numbers — are not alone in the world, he said.

In the current Vatican organizational framework, the secretary of state is the pope’s closest collaborator, the one who traditionally made sure that the pope’s policies and priorities became concrete in the work of Vatican offices. The secretary usually has been very close to the pope and meets with him often.

When Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Bertone secretary of state in 2006 it was a reunion of sorts. Then-archbishop Bertone had been secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for seven years when its prefect was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The appointment raised some eyebrows because most of the time — although not always — the position was held by a prelate who had come up through the ranks of the Vatican diplomatic corps. Cardinal Bertone had a background as a Salesian pastor, an archbishop and as a Vatican official dealing with doctrinal matters.

While Cardinal Bertone had never worked in the Vatican’s diplomatic sector, he had been employed as a type of roving troubleshooter: He flew to Havana in 2005 for talks with Cuban President Fidel Castro; in 2002, he was charged with trying to convince then-Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo to give up the idea of marriage and reconcile with the pope; and he met with a Fatima visionary, Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, when he coordinated the publication of the third secret of Fatima in 2000, another delicate task.

In a series of interviews before taking over the helm at the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Bertone made it clear he was not coming to the job with his own agenda. As he put it in one interview, the secretary of state should above all be “a man loyal to the pope,” someone who executes the pope’s projects and not his own.

Calligraphy teaching priest portrayed in new movie

Father Robert Palladino, an 80-year old priest of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., might want to get out to the movies — at least to see how he is portrayed on the big screen.

Father Palladino  (CNS photos)

Father Palladino (CNS photo)

The priest  is credited with teaching Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs calligraphy that influenced the typeface of Mac computers.

His role as calligraphy professor at Portland’s Reed College with his famous student gets a scene in the biographical movie ” Jobs.”  In the movie, the priest is portrayed by 48-year-old actor and screenwriter William Mapother, best known for playing Ethan Rom on the TV series “Lost.”

Mapother, a native of Louisville, Ky.,  attended St. Xavier High School there and then the University of Notre Dame.

He told the Catholic Sentinel that he intended to portray Father Palladino as “someone deeply committed to calligraphy, and by extension, to life. Someone who cared about beauty, expression, and communication. Someone serious.”

He said he received some background about the priest before the scene was filmed, and would like to have met him but didn’t get time.

About 10 minutes into the movie,  Jobs is wandering around his college campus when he sees a girl under a tree sketching. She says she is taking a calligraphy class taught by a monk. The movie then jumps to Jobs in the classroom, working on calligraphy.

In a later scene, Jobs explodes at an engineer who did not include a button for multiple fonts on a computer toolbar. He fires the man, complaining that obviously he lacked passion for the project.

During a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs said that Reed College in the 1970s offered what he thought was the best calligraphy instruction in the country. “Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed,” Jobs said.

According to the Catholic Sentinel, Father Palladino taught Jobs serif and sans serif type faces and about varying spaces between combinations of letters, and everything that makes typography excellent.

A CNS story on the priest two years ago points out that Father Palladino was a Trappist monk for 18 years. In 1968 he left the order and was dispensed from monastic vows and celibacy by Pope Paul VI. He married and had a son with his wife Catherine.

His wife died in 1987 and five years later he asked Portland’s archbishop,  then-Archbishop William J. Levada, if he could become a  priest. In 1995, with papal approval, the former monk and husband became a parish priest.

He said his role in the movie came as a surprise because he was not consulted about it. He is just now getting around to reading the 2011 book on which the movie is based.

But he was  glad the producers chose “a handsome, athletic, 6-foot-1 actor to portray him. “
“Of course, Hollywood does have a way of getting unhinged from reality, ” he quipped.

Civil rights movement carried on by ‘great souls’

Participants at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (CNS/Reuters)

Participants at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (CNS/Reuters)

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, a 15-year-old seminarian in Chicago during the March on Washington 50 years ago, said he “realized that history was being made” when he watched the event on television.

In an interview with the Georgia Bulletin, archdiocesan newspaper, the archbishop talks about his own brushes with discrimination as a seminarian and a young priest. He also notes how the civil rights movement has made huge strides but can still make stronger inroads.

He said the movement has always been “much larger than any single individual” even Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., pointing out that “all of the great souls who spoke, wrote, sat-in, endured water hoses and vicious dogs” contributed to its success.

“The civil rights movement is a testimony of the courage of a pantheon of martyrs from Medgar Evers, to Malcolm X, to Viola Liuzzo, to James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, to the little girls who died in the church bombing in Birmingham, to Dr. King and thousands of unnamed others. Those names punctuated my youth as the civil rights movement advanced toward freedom,”  Archbishop Gregory said.

He also indicated that there is still much work to be done.

As he put it: “We have made unquestioned progress on many fronts, including in the political arena, but we now face other challenges in the pursuit of justice. Violence against all forms of life has persisted, if not increased. We may no longer lynch people, but we euthanize the unwanted, experiment with fledgling human life, kill those we deem dangerous and expendable, we slaughter those within the womb as a perverted expression of freedom. We could certainly learn powerful lessons from nonviolence in such a violent context, as we now seem to find ourselves.”

“Labor in the Pulpits”

Each year, during Labor Day weekend, churches around the United States take part in an initiative called “Labor in the Pulpits.” Coordinated by Interfaith Worker Justice, it depends on clergy to use their homilies to address issues of importance to workers.

This year’s theme is “fair development,” described as “making sure that monies invested in companies to build the economy are fair to the residents of those communities,” according to Meghan Cohorst of UNITE HERE, a union for workers in the hotel, restaurant and garment industries.

One case in point: Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. “The concession program there, where many of the workers work, is run by a private, for-profit company, not by the airport: Airmall USA, which has a very long-term, lucrative contract with the state of Maryland,” Cohorst said.

“Since January, workers have been organizing around a ‘workers’ bill of rights’ to address issues of job security (and) full-time work,” Cohorst said. “But the workers report they’re having all of these issues, allegedly being intimidated,” she added. “There had been some anti-organizing activity where some of the concessionaries had charges filed against them by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).”

According to a 2011 study issued by an organization called Good Jobs First, the median wage for concessions workers at many of the airport’s eateries and newsstands was $8.50 an hour.

About 50 churches in the Baltimore area will have labor-related preaching in their pulpit this weekend. with workers present in those houses of worship, Cohorst said. Among them will be four or five Catholic churches celebrating a total of 11 Masses.

Keeping the faith on campus takes work

Two women walking on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington June 14 pass a statue of Archbishop John Carroll, Baltimore's first archbishop and founder of Georgetown.

Two women walking on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington June 14 pass a statue of Archbishop John Carroll, Baltimore’s first archbishop and founder of Georgetown. (CNS/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

Last week a colleague here at Catholic News Service took his older boy off to college for the first time. It was an emotional time for him and his wife, but a time of great joy and anticipation for their son Matthew. My friends have done a great job in raising their two sons. The boys are smart, gifted athletes, have great values and a solid faith. Like all parents whose children begin this next big step in their lives, they hope the kids hold on to all they have learned as they are exposed to new ideas in a bigger world, not the least of which is their faith.

Jesuit Father Kevin O’Brien, vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., wrote Aug. 19 in the Washington Post‘s On Faith section that college is indeed a time when young people are confronted with new ideas and questions that will challenge many aspects of their lives, but that is all part of growing into adulthood. But it can be, well, a bumpy road for students and parents.

“Young adults transitioning to college need to be gentle with themselves and others.  Parents do well to model that patience,” he wrote.

If you have a daughter or son who’s off to college for the first time or heading back again, and you’re holding your breath on how all those years of religious education are going to hold up, check out Father O’Brien’s “How to Keep the Faith on Campus.” It will help you keep your faith in your college student.

Pope Francis’ summer break includes time for writing

VATICAN CITY — Rome and the Vatican are traditionally left to the tourists in August, and it is difficult to find key Vatican officials at their desks this week.

(CNS/Paul Haring)

(CNS/Paul Haring)

But Pope Francis continues to hold meetings and to work, although most of those meetings are considered private. Yesterday’s meeting with a group of Japanese junior high school students was an exception.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, the vice director of the Vatican press office, told the handful of journalists working in the press office today that Pope Francis was using these August days to work on two documents — an encyclical on poverty and an exhortation on evangelization.

Catholic News Service has previously written about plans for both documents:

– The encyclical, “Beati pauperes” (“Blessed are the Poor”), reportedly will deal with the topic of poverty, not as an economic or political topic, but from a Gospel point of view.

– The exhortation on evangelization should be published before the end of the year, perhaps in conjunction with the Nov. 24 end of the Year of Faith. Pope Francis had said in June that he’d already begun writing it and hoped to finish it in August. It would take the place of a traditional post-synodal apostolic exhortation by reflecting both on the theme of the 2012 world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization and on sharing the Gospel in general.

Another event we’d reported on earlier is set to begin next week in Castel Gandolfo.

The “Ratzinger Schulerkreis” (Ratzinger Student Circle), a group of retired Pope Benedict’s former students, will meet Aug. 29-Sept. 2. For the first time, the retired pope is not scheduled to join his former students, although a visit by them to the Vatican monastery where Pope Benedict lives has not been ruled out.

Details on the group and the theme they’ll discuss this year are here.

Detroit university sees hope in city despite bankruptcy, offers resources and commitment to community

In a recent interview with Catholic News Service, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said the bankruptcy of Detroit does not mean the city is dead.

“I would say people are responding with a lot of grit,” he said. Residents and political leaders certainly are challenged and remain uncertain, he pointed out, but added: “Stories about the city being on its death bed are wrong.”

In a recent post on the website of the University of Detroit Mercy, Antoine M. Garibaldi, the school’s president, makes similar points, and also noted the current difficulties facing the city have no direct financial impact on the university.

(CNS photo/Reuters)

(CNS photo/Reuters)

“However, because of the university’s 136-year mission of providing education in an urban context and serving the Detroit community, we will continue to play a vital role in the city as it navigates through this challenging period,” Garibaldi said. “As a Catholic, Jesuit and Mercy university with three campuses in Detroit, this is another ideal time in our history to show and share UDM’s commitment and economic impact on an iconic American city.”

The university website has links to its various outreach initiatives and links to community initiatives. Garibalidi said: “Many exciting initiatives are underway in the surrounding neighborhoods of University of Detroit Mercy, and the city of Detroit has also had numerous successes in recent months.”

App uses alarm to remind Catholics to recite creed

By Lynn LeCluyse

WASHINGTON (CNS) — If you want a daily reminder to recite the Nicene Creed, there’s an app for that.

Little i Apps LLC recently announced the release of its latest Catholic mobile application, “Wake Up to the Creed.”

Father Brett Brannen

Father Brett Brannen

Developed using the creative ideas of Father Brett Brannen, author of “To Save A Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood,” the 99 cent app works like an alarm clock that alerts users all over the world to pray the Nicene Creed at customized times of the day.

Father Brannen, a priest of the Diocese of Savannah, Ga., who recentlycompleted five years as vice rector of Mount St. mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., developed the app as an easy way to help Catholics memorize the new translation of the creed, as some are still adjusting to words such as “consubstantial.” He also wanted to embrace now-retired Pope Benedict XVI’s request that Catholics prayerfully participate in the Year of Faith.

“I felt like the idea came from the Holy Spirit, so I began to explore it more” Father Brannen said in a phone interview with the Catholic News Service.

The Nicene Creed reads in part: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, … begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”

With no knowledge about how to develop a mobile app, the priest made some phone calls to gather information.

“I remembered a confession app that came out so I called a friend of mine to ask who the developer was for that, and I found this company called Little i Apps,” he said.

After Father Brannen told Little i Apps — a company run by three Catholic men — about his plan, they agreed to help.

“They’re just very devout Catholic men themselves,” he said. “I told them I’m not trying to make money, but I’m very active in the promotion of diocesan priesthood.”

Brannen said the “Wake up to the Creed” app stresses the importance of the Nicene Creed as a solemn profession of faith and the official statement of what Catholic Christians believe.

“We often pray it without thinking about what it truly means,” he said. “To wake up every morning listening to those words, I think it’s a great way to start your day.”

Father Brannen first tried using prayer cards to encourage people to say the creed, but the cards were small and easy to lose.

Using the “Wake Up to the Creed” app, iPhone users hear the chime of bells followed by a voice praying the Nicene Creed, while Android users receive a push notification followed by a voice praying the creed. Users can choose from a variety of languages including English, Spanish, French, Polish, and Latin. Some languages provide the option of either a male or female voice.

“I think the app is beneficial because it helps address the problem of teaching the new creed in a different way,” Patrick Leinen, co-founder, programmer and designer for Little i Apps, LLC, said. “Rather than trying to memorize the new words on paper or prayer cards, the ability to actually hear the words aloud using the app makes it easier to take in and learn those changes.”

After devising a plan for the app, it took just three to four weeks to create. Although he described it as an enjoyable experience, Father Brannen said the biggest challenge in creating the app was working out the kinks.

“They would tell me certain aspects weren’t working well, and we were eventually able to get those things fixed,” he said. “But that’s all part of the process, that’s the way apps are developed.”

Father Brannen said he hopes that people will come to love their faith more through the app by starting their day in prayer.

“Starting the day off with faith — I think that’s what was desired for the Year of Faith,” he said.

“Wake Up to the Creed” can be purchased on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. All proceeds go toward promoting vocations to diocesan priesthood in the U.S. and throughout the world.

“It’s not just for the Year of Faith,” Father Brannen said. “We hope people will continue to use it long after the Year of Faith is over.”

Notes on justice and peace

Months of protests by retired members of the United Mine Workers of America and their supporters have led to a tentative settlement with Patriot Coal Corp. over the severity of cuts in pensioner health care benefits.

About 1,800 active and laid off union members in Kentucky and West Virginia will vote on the proposal Aug. 16, the union said.

UMWA declined to release details other than to say that the deal was a significant improvement over the company’s earlier offers. Patriot also did not release details.

Both sides welcomed the tentative agreement, reached after weeks of negotiations, in statements on their websites. (UMWA and Patriot)

St. Louis-based Patriot Coal wanted to significantly reduce the health benefits for retirees and their families under an effort to restructure the company, which filed for bankruptcy 13 months ago. The plan was approved by Judge Kathy Surratt-States, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Union members and supporters have protested the move for months, saying that Patriot was a shell corporation for two other mining firms — Peabody Energy and Arch Coal — that wanted to escape liabilities to retirees and undertook a complex series of business moves beginning in 2005 to do so. The result was that very few of the thousands of retirees ever worked for Patriot but still are dependent on the company for their retirement benefits.

Months of protests and rallies at Peabody and Arch offices in St. Louis and West Virginia (the latest Aug. 13) led to planned arrests on minor charges. Among those who have been arrested were Glenmary Father John Rausch, a leader in Religious Leaders for Coalfield Justice, and Father Andrew Switzer, associate pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Parkersburg, W.Va., and the son of a UMWA leader.

UPDATE: Religious Leaders for Coalfield Justice and Interfaith Worker Justice welcomed the tentative agreement in an Aug. 14 statement. At the same, both organizations said they believe Peabody and Arch sold off assets to Patriot Coal “to divest themselves of long-term legal retirement and health care obligations to retirees and their families. “The settlement fails to address Peabody’s and Arch’s culpability to provide for a long-term fix for retiree health care,” the groups said.

“As people of faith we are committed to walk alongside our brothers and sisters at UMWA until justice, retirement and health care security can be maintained for active and retired miners, their families and coalfield communities,” the groups added.

SECOND UPDATE: UMWA members voted Aug. 16 by an 85 percent to 15 percent margin to accept the settlement. The deal is far better than what a federal bankruptcy court judge ordered in May, said UMWA president Cecil Roberts.

Patriot also will give the union a 35 percent to 38 percent stake in the company by establishing a voluntary employment benefit association to pay retiree health care benefits into the future.

The agreement also calls for Patriot to stay in the UMWA pension fund with no affect on pension benefits for current retires; active members will continue to earn pension credit. Current employees will receive other improvements in wages and benefits under the contract.

Roberts said in a statement that the deal does not provide enough financial resources to maintain lifetime health care benefits for retirees, as Peabody and Arch had agreed to provide to their retirees. But he pledged that the union will continue to seek ways to “hold Peabody and Arch accountable.”

Catholic Charities USA annual gathering in San Francisco

Catholic Charities USA brings its annual gathering to San Francisco Sept. 14-16.

Meeting under the theme “Building Bridges to Opportunitiy,” hundreds of Catholic Charities staffers and volunteers from across the country will meet for three days to strategize about poverty reduction and hear from expert speakers.

Patrick Lencioni, president of the Table Group, a consulting firm that assists organizations build services and employee engagement, is one of the keynote speakers. Workshops and seminars also are planned.

It’s not too late to register.

Upcoming events

Aug. 24: 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, Washington.

Aug. 28: 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” Washington.

Sept. 5: Franciscan Action Network climate change webinar.

Oct. 25: Pax Christi USA Momentum 2013, Trinity University Washington, honoring Mary Meg McCarthy, director, National Immigrant Justice Center, as 2013 Teacher of Peace.

Goin’ for the gold — and winning it (again)

U.S. simmer Missy Franklin at the 2012 Olympics in London. (CNS photo/Reuters)

U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin at the 2012 Olympics in London. (CNS photo/Reuters)

So many eyes have been on NFL training camps now underway as well as on the latest controversy in the sports world involving the use of performance-enhancing drugs by baseball players, suspensions and A-Rod’s obstruction of the investigation into the use of those drugs — earning him even more suspended games. With all that going on, you gotta wonder if some aren’t missing a better sports story — about two golden girls. They are U.S. swimmers Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin.

Both athletes were stars at the 2012 Olympic Games, and took home lots of gold, and they just smashed records right and left in Barcelona, winning the gold again.

Gold medalist Katie ledecky at the 2012 Olympics in London. (CNS photo/Reuters)

U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky at the 2012 Olympics in London. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Ledecky is a Stone Ridge Gator Class of ’15 — at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md., in the Washington Archdiocese. Franklin graduated in May from Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo., which is in the Denver Archdiocese. This fall Franklin heads to the University of California at Berkeley.

In Barcelona, Ledecky took four gold medals. On Aug. 6 she set two new world records, one in the 1,500-meter freestyle and another in the 800-meter freestyle. Franklin took six golds, becoming the first woman to do so at a single world championships.

At the Olympics just over a year ago, Ledecky won gold in the 800 freestyle.  Franklin won three golds and a bronze.

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