Powerful pictures should make more than headlines

VATICAN CITY — It was to have hands and be able to touch and heal people that Christ became human, Pope Francis has said.

Pope greets man with disability after Mass in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greeting a man with a disability after celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“God meddles in our miseries, he approaches our wounds and heals them with his hands; it was to have hands he became man.”

“God does not save us only by decree, with a law, he saves us with tenderness, he saves us with caresses, he saves us with his life given for us.”

Pope Francis Oct. 22 homily

Pope Francis' General Audience

Pope Francis embracing a man at the Nov. 6 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA)

This passage seemed appropriate to accompany the pictures of Pope Francis embracing and kissing a man disfigured by neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder resulting in numerous, often painful, tumors.

The gesture at yesterday’s general audience has grabbed people’s attention, as well as news headlines.

But, every time we are struck by such poignant and moving movements, we should also consider something else the pope has said.

Pope visits St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro

Pope Francis greeting a young man as he visits St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro July 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The people behind the picture aren’t just an image to be digested and forgotten with the next news cycle; they are people who need to be heard every day:

“In the people we find the wounds of Jesus. Jesus hidden in the Eucharist and Jesus hidden in these wounds. They need to be heard!

Maybe not so much in newspapers as news; there they take notice for one, two, three days, then something else comes up, and another thing. The wounds should be heard by those who call themselves Christian.

Pope Francis meeting with children Oct. 4 in Assisi

As gestures often communicate more powerfully than words, we’re sharing some of our favorite Francis moments and inviting people to think about the message: What is it that needs to be heard and then lived?

Pope embraces young woman during encounter with youth in Cagliari, Sardinia

Pope Francis embraces a young woman during an encounter with youth in Cagliari, Sardinia, Sept. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope greets people in wheelchairs after celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets people in wheelchairs after celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope greets woman during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets a woman during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope leads Benediction during vigil to pray for peace in Syria

Pope Francis leading Benediction during a vigil to pray for peace in Syria Sept. 7 in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses boy during visit to slum complex in Brazil

Pope Francis blessing a boy in the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro July 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope greets young man after spin in popemobile chair during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets Alberto di Tullio, 17, after letting him sit and spin around in the popemobile chair during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Child waves a flag as Pope Francis arrives at the Caritas residence in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi

A child waves a flag as Pope Francis arrives at the Caritas residence in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi Oct. 4. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope Francis embraces emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo

Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI embracing at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, March 23. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis kisses foot of prisoner at prison for minors in Rome

Pope Francis kisses the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility March 28. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis poses with youths during meeting with young people in St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican

Pope Francis during a meeting with young people from the northern Italian diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio in St. Peter’s Basilica Aug. 28. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis touches the head of a child during special event for families in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis touches the head of a child during a Year of Faith celebration of the family in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 26. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis I leads prayer as he appears for first time on balcony of St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis bowing and asking people to pray for him after he appeared for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after his election March 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CNS “nuclear football” prevents news coverage gaps during historic move

VATICAN CITY — After 19 years located in an apartment building half mile from the Vatican, Catholic News Service’s Rome bureau was ready for a move — to fresher digs and closer to the action.

As anyone who has ever moved knows, it’s usually not a pretty sight. Not only because a few of us (mostly me) have pack-rat tendencies, there are paper files and valuable archive materials going back to the Second Vatican Council and earlier as CNS has had a full-time presence in Rome since 1948.

suitcase

The CNS “nuclear football” contained every item that might be needed to cover normal and unusual news events at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

Moving a news organization is also challenging because “the show must go on!” The pope and the rest of the Vatican don’t stop working and CNS client papers still need to go to press.

The day before the office was set to be boxed up and shipped off, CNS’s senior correspondent, Cindy Wooden, and I started filling a small cardboard box and wheelie suitcase with essential items that would supply our “mobile newsroom” for the next few days.

Dubbed “the nuclear football” by Rome bureau chief Francis Rocca, the suitcase needed to get us through not just a couple of typical workdays, but also had to cover us in case of some unforeseen news Armageddon.

suitcase contents

Contents of the CNS “mobile newsroom” to be used while the Rome bureau moved to a new office. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

Essential items included aspirin, gaffer tape, half a bar of chocolate, a safety pin, USB drive, telephone books, personal contacts, recording devices, notebooks and pens. It had started out as a full chocolate bar…

inside box

Books about Pope Francis, style-books, College of Cardinal statistics, batteries, recording equipment were part of the CNS mobile newsroom. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

We did pack a laptop, but it decided to give out on the first day we were office-less so I feel it doesn’t deserve to be included it in the photo-lineup. iPad minis and our booth in the Vatican press hall provided us with connectivity.

room paul

CNS senior correspondent Cindy Wooden and senior photographer Paul Haring surveying the new, yet unpacked newsroom. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

Luckily we were spared an “extreme” news event during the move. However, the “atomic suitcase” has ended up being more of a lifesaver than anticipated since we still are not completely unpacked.

Thanks to the wheelie suitcase contents, we’ve been able to have all the essentials as we continue to settle into our new office — now located next door to the Vatican press hall and 50 yards from St. Peter’s Square.

Enjoy some of these shots of our new home in Rome.

As always, CNS clients and fans are more than welcome to stop by. We still may have a box for you to sit on when you visit!

CNS's new office

CNS correspondent Carol Glatz digs out something useful during a move to the Rome bureau’s new offices on Via della Conciliazione. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CNS's new office at Via della Conciliazione 44

A nice view of the courtyard from one of the rooms in the new CNS Rome bureau. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CNS' new office at Via della Conciliazione 44

The CNS Rome bureau has moved offices to a renovated building on Via della Conciliazione, just a few yards from St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CNS' new office at Via della Conciliazione 44

CNS has had a full-time presence in Rome since 1948. Its new offices on Via della Conciliazione put CNS right at the heart of the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Decoding Francis: Vatican media adviser offers “10 things to know”

VATICAN CITY — If people are still unsure about what to make of Pope Francis, the Vatican’s media adviser offered his take on decoding the pontiff.

GREG BURKE, MEDIA ADVISER TO VATICAN, PARTICIPATES IN PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT POPE'S PRESENCE ON TWITTER

Greg Burke, media adviser to the Vatican, participating in a Vatican press conference Dec. 3, 2012. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Pope Francis is not a politically-correct pope,” rather, he is “a loyal son of the church” who presents the hard truths with a heavy dose of mercy, said Greg Burke, senior communications adviser to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

The former U.S. journalist, who’s been based in Rome the past 25 years, gave a behind-the-scenes talk last week to hundreds of benefactors celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums.

U.S. Msgr. Peter Wells — another top official at the Secretariat of State — also spoke at the same Oct. 18 event in the apostolic palace, where he gave his take on the reform of the curia and how they counteract secular media manipulating the pope’s message.

In trying to describe his papally-appointed role as the Vatican’s chief media strategist, Burke (an unabashed soccer fan) said, “We kick the ball to Francis and Francis scores the goals.” “We let the pope do his thing.”

He said Pope Francis clearly knows how to communicate and his effectiveness comes from his authenticity. “It’s not charm. It’s Christian charity, which is a whole lot more attractive than charm.”

He also said “Pope Francis is not a politically-correct pope, in my opinion.”

Pope greets people in wheelchairs after celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greeting people in wheelchairs after celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

There’s been a lot of spin in the press about what the pope has been saying, but “I believe the pope wants to get beyond left and right” by getting people to focus on the Gospels, on God and his truth and mercy.

“He’s a loyal son of the church” who sees its task as being like “a field hospital” that runs to and helps people who are hurting, he said.

The pope is not advocating a “feel-good” religion of “I’m OK-you’re OK-Catholicism,” but talks about the truth of the Gospel that includes mercy and forgiveness.

“The Gospel is not there to make us feel good. The Gospel is there and makes very practical demands on us,” and one of those demands is to “tell people the truth and walk with them to the Lord,” Burke said.

Burke said, “the pope’s picture should have one of those warning labels” on it, much like a pack of cigarettes does, but with the words: “Danger: This man could change your life.”

Here’s Burke’s Top Ten List to describe and better understand the Argentine pontiff:

Pope greets man as he meets with patients, others at hospital in Rio

Pope Francis greeting a man at Rio de Janeiro’s St. Francis of Assisi Hospital — a clinic for recovering drug addicts. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (July 24, 2013)

1. Mercy — The story of the Prodigal Son is a recurring theme and the pope repeatedly says that God never tires of forgiving and welcoming his lost children back home.  “The church is waiting here for you with open arms,” is the message, Burke said.

2. Moxie/courage — “We’re all going to get challenged by Pope Francis. Get ready!” People who live comfortably or live in developed nations will be especially challenged, Burke said, adding, “This is good. This is the Gospel.”

3. Margins, missions — Francis is continuing with his predecessors’ criticism of a world divided by haves and have-nots. The pope “is not a fan of cheap grace and feel-good religion. He wants to see Christians who are not afraid to get their hands dirty,” Burke said.

Woman prays as pope leads vigil to pray for peace in Syria

A woman in prayer as Pope Francis led a vigil to pray for peace in Syria in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

4. Prayer — Non-believers often don’t notice how important prayer is for religious life. For example, Blessed Mother Teresa was often looked upon by the secular press as “a social worker wearing a habit.” But, Burke said, the pope has constantly been stressing the importance of prayer and urging people to pray.

5. Encounter — The pope is asking people to embrace a “culture of encounter” where they experience God and meet with others, including non-believers. This attitude of encounter and communion also starts at home, with your family, Burke said.

Pope Francis gives thumbs as he leaves St. Peter's Square after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass

Pope Francis giving a thumbs up after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

6. Joy — The pope “gets a thumbs’ up on that,” he said, as he’s able to show his joy so plainly. He said that according to Pope Francis, the biggest dangers and temptations in life are “discouragement, discord, the doldrums and the devil.”

7. Service — By paying his hotel bill in person (even though he had just been elected pope), phoning people who write to him and other do-it-yourself tasks, the pope is leading by example with the message that “it’s not about power or privilege; if we’re here, we’re here to serve.”

Pope Francis steps off a plane in Rome, returning from his trip to Brazil

Pope Francis stepping off a plane after returning to Rome July 29 from his trip to Brazil. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

8. Simplicity/Humility — Living in a Vatican guest house instead of the apostolic palace, carrying his own briefcase on a trip… that’s just how the pope is and people will have to “get used to it because we’ll see more of it,” Burke said.

9. Compassion — Burke, who’s a numerary member of Opus Dei and went to Jesuit-run St. Louis University high school in St. Louis, said he used to joke with people “that everyone should have a Jesuit education. Now with Pope Francis, everyone is getting the benefits of a Jesuit education.”

“Compassion and suffering with others is something Pope Francis has a knack for” and it’s especially evident when he embraces people and is totally present one-on-one with an individual, even in large crowds.

10. Energy — Burke said for a 76-year-old, the pope “has a lot of energy and we’re going to be in for an interesting ride!”

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.”

CNS correspondent wins Titus Brandsma Award

Anto Akkara, who writes for Catholic News Service from South Asia, is the recipient of the 2013 Titus Brandsma Award for the “stellar role” he has played in “highlighting the gross denial of fundamental rights and freedom of religion in the Kandhamal jungles of Orissa,” an East Indian state.

Anto Akkara, CNS correspondent

Anto Akkara, CNS correspondent

The award, from the Geneva-based International Christian Organization of the Media, a forum for professionals and institutions in secular and religious journalism, will be awarded at the organization’s world congress in Panama City Sept. 29-Oct. 6. It is named after Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Dutch journalist and Carmelite priest who died in 1942 at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

Akkara has written for Catholic News Service on topics such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and, afterward, church efforts to help the displaced; human rights violations in Sri Lanka; and flooding in Pakistan.

Akkara who has won several media awards for his investigative book “Kandhamal: A Blot on Indian Secularism,” following the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in August 2008. His latest book on Kandhamal, “Early Christians of 21st Century,” was released in February.

He has a master’s degree in English literature, post-graduate diploma in journalism and LL.B from Delhi University.

Marquette’s ‘Tolkieniana’ collection includes manuscripts, drawings

Marquette archivist William Fliss looks over material related to Tolkien collection. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

Marquette archivist William Fliss looks over materials related to Tolkien collection held by university. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

The buzz about “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” preceded the film’s release by months and since the movie opened Dec. 14, it has grossed more than $600 million in box office receipts around the world — and still counting. But as Tom Jozwik writes in a story for the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee, the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien on which the film is based and his other works and papers have been “hot topics around Marquette University for some time.”

The Jesuit-run university has a Tolkien collection — “Tolkienana” — that contains 10,000 pages of the author’s book manuscripts, typescripts and drawings.

As the Catholic News Service review of “The Hobbit” notes, that Tolkien novel was first published in 1937 and “has proved so popular in the decades since that it has never gone out of print.” Almost two decades later, Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was published. His work has been described as Catholic in both the general sense of “universal” and in the Catholic sense of a deeply sacramental understanding of reality. Tolkien also was a good friend of C.S. Lewis, whose work is finding renewed popularity and whose exploration of Christian faith is inspiring a new generation as we reported earlier this month.

US religion writers pick bishops’ battle with HHS as 2012 top news story

Members of the Religion Newswriters Association, the world’s oldest and largest professional non-denominational association for journalists who write about religion, picked the U.S. Catholic bishops’ opposition to national health care legislation mandating contraception coverage as the No. 1 religion story of 2012. They also chose Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York as the year’s top newsmaker in their annual poll

“As the nation reeled from the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., religious leaders sought to console a stunned public and to discern religion’s role in future debates about mental health and gun control. The No. 1 U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack and the mournful search for meaning that follows,” an RNA statement said this week. “However, before the shooting, professional journalists who cover religion voted on the year’s other significant religious events.”

The Top 10 poll of Religion Newswriters Association members took place Dec. 11- 15, 2012, in a confidential, online ballot. More than 100 members of the organization responded. RNA has conducted the poll for nearly 40 years.

Most RNA members are working journalists in secular media, though some work in media owned by specific denominations. (Full disclosure: I am a member of RNA.)

Cardinal Dolan, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, became the point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Affordable Health Care Act.

The Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year are below:

1. U.S. Catholic bishops lead opposition to Affordable Health Care Act requirement that insurance coverage for contraception be provided for employees. The government backs down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the opposition.

2. A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey shows that “nones,” that is people with no religious affiliation, is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, rising to 19.6 percent of the population.

3. The circulation of an anti-Islam film trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” causes unrest in several countries, leading to claims that it inspired the fatal attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya. President Obama, at the U.N., calls for toleration tolerance of blasphemy, and respect as a two-way street.

4. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith turns out to be a virtual non-issue for white evangelical voters, who support him more strongly than they did John McCain in the U.S. presidential race.

5. Msgr. William Lynn of Philadelphia becomes the first senior Catholic official in the U.S. to be found guilty of covering up priestly child abuse; later Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., becomes the first bishop to be found guilty of it.

6. The Vatican criticizes the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group of U.S. sisters, alleging they haven’t supported church teaching on abortion, sexuality or women’s ordination.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was selected as newsmaker of the year for 2012 by the Religion Newswriters Association. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was selected as newsmaker of the year for 2012 by the Religion Newswriters Association. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

7. Voters OK same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, bringing the total approving to nine states and the District of Columbia. Also, Minnesota defeats a ban on same-sex marriage after North Carolina approves one.

8. The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly adopts a trial ritual for blessing same-sex couples. Earlier, the United Methodists fail to vote on approving gay clergy, and the Presbyterians (USA) vote to study, rather than sanction, same-sex marriage ceremonies.

9. Six people are killed and three wounded at worship in a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The shooter, an Army veteran killed by police, is described as a neo-Nazi.

10. The Southern Baptist Convention elects without opposition its first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans.

Votes for the 2012 Religion Newsmaker of the Year ranked the five potential candidates in this order:

1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York becomes a point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning-after drugs in the Affordable Health Care Act. But the cardinal also takes heat from the right when he invites the president to the traditional Al Smith Dinner in New York.

2. Rev. Fred Luter, first black president of the sprawling Southern Baptist Convention, who is expected to help the SBC become more racially diverse.

3. Mark Basseley Youssef, an Egypt-born Christian whose work has been condemned by the Coptic Church, provoked rioting in the Muslim world with his film trailer “Innocence of Muslims.” He was jailed in California on probation violations.

4. Mormon voters, who enthusiastically backed one of their own for president, acted in ways that helped overcome suspicions of them by other faiths.

5. Pro football quarterback Tim Tebow, whose book about his faith was on the best-seller list, inspired the term “Tebowing” for kneeling in prayer and led to polarized discussions about the role of faith in sports.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 751 other followers