Hawaii Catholic Herald ready for new saint (again)

Tapestry of Blessed Marianne Cope (CNS photo from Reuters)

Three years ago the Hawaii Catholic Herald was on top of the canonization of one of Hawaii’s own — St. Damien de Veuster, a Belgian priest who devoted his life to ministering on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, serving people with leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease. Once again the state’s is readying for the canonization of one of its own: Blessed Marianne Cope, who will be canonized Oct. 21. She succeeded St. Damien, spending the last 30 years of her life ministering on Molokai. She died on the island in 1918 at age 80. She was beatified in 2005.

This week’s issue of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Honolulu Diocese, has a special section about Mother Marianne that includes a tribute to the sister who directed her cause for decades and died last year, just days before the Vatican announced that the path for Mother Marianne’s sainthood had been cleared.

The issue also features a timeline of Mother Marianne’s path to sainthood, a preview of what Hawaii’s pilgrims heading to Rome for the canonization can expect, and a story about the miracles attributed to her intercession.

The eight-page section also hightlights the six other saints to be canonized Oct. 21, including Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” and the first Native American to be beatified. It also describes how the Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., will be celebrating the canonization. It is in that diocese that Mother Marianne’s religious community, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, has a shrine and museum dedicated to the soon-to-be saint. The chapel at the motherhouse there has a reliquary containing her remains.

Archbishop says time is now for Catholics to speak out about religious freedom

(Editor’s note: Updated July 5)

Full storyReligious liberty is ‘a foundational right,’ says Archbishop Chaput

A depiction of the Statue of Liberty appears in mosaic, part of a larger piece in a side chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Yesterday, on Independence Day, in his homily for the closing Mass of the U.S. bishops’ “fortnight for freedom,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said the time is now for Catholics to stand up and speak out about the foundational right to religious freedom in this country.

“We live in a time that calls for sentinels and public witness. Every Christian in every era faces the same task,” he said. “But you and I are responsible for this moment. Today. Now. We need to ‘speak out,’ not only for religious liberty and the ideals of the nation we love, but for the sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person –- in other words, for the truth of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.”

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, main celebrant of the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, said the fortnight not only brought Catholics together to demonstrate their support religious liberty but it also “has been a time for us to count our many blessings and to celebrate both our Christian and American heritage of liberty.” Read the cardinal’s newest blog posting titled “Remembering who we are as Catholics and Americans,” in which about the closing Mass and the fortnight observance.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for the fortnight in March in their Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty’s statement, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” and asked dioceses to plan Masses, prayer services, educational events and other activities from June 21 to July 4.

The statement outlined several instances of “religious liberty under attack.” Foremost among the U.S. bishops’ concerns is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that employers, including most religious ones, provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, which Catholic teaching considers “morally objectionable.”

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori launched the observance as the main celebrant of a June 21 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. “We must never allow the government — any government, at any time, of any party — to impose such a constrictive definition on our beloved church or any church,” said the archbishop, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom.

Fortnight events in U.S. dioceses ranged from an Independence Celebration Walk & Picnic in Des Moines, Iowa, a motorcycle “Rosary Ride for Religious Freedom” in Colorado Springs, Colo., and nonpartisan voter registration drives after Masses in Atlanta parishes, to a religious liberty conference in Covington, Ky., parish movie nights in Omaha, Neb., featuring religious-liberty themed films, and an outdoor Faith and Freedom Mass in a park band shell in Savannah, Ga. Links to what U.S. dioceses did over the fortnight can be found on the USCCB website

Colorado Springs man says ordeal of wildfire has strengthened his faith

Colorado Springs home damaged by wildfire smolders. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Al Cunningham, one of the thousands of residents displaced by the worst fire in Colorado history, told Linda Oppelt of  The Colorado Catholic Herald, the whole ordeal has strengthened his faith. “It’s not that I’m not attached to my property, but it’s not the end of the world,” he said in an interview with the newspaper of the Colorado Springs Diocese.

He was one of about 80 people who attended a special Holy Hour at St Mary’s Cathedral Thursday night to pray for the victims and first responders of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire, the Herald reported. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan announced the prayer service in an email to priests and deacons of the diocese early Wednesday.

Beverly Beal, of Manitou Springs, told Oppelt that seeing “people coming together as a community to offer support” has strengthened her faith. On Sunday morning, for example, when she had been evacuated and went to Mass, “a couple we didn’t even know offered us their home,” she said.

The Colorado Catholic Herald has had extensive coverage of  the disaster and the emergency relief efforts of the diocese, Catholic Charities and parishes. A June 30 story reported on President Barack Obama’s visit to the area and how evacuees were coping with a tough week.

The Associated Press reported this morning that of the 35,000 people who had been evacuated, 3,000 of them were still displaced. More of the evacuees were allowed to return to their neighborhoods today see what, if anything remained of their houses. News reports said about 350 homes were destroyed. Two people died in the blaze that started June 23 in a popular hiking area. AP said the fire was 55 percent contained but that 1,500 firefighters remained on the scene.

CUA president pens columns about HHS mandate

CUA President John Garvey     (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, has been writing a fair amount on the contraceptive mandate in the new health care reform law.

He wrote an op-ed piece in the May 25 edition of The Washington Post and a commentary in the June 8 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Both columns outlined why Catholic University recently joined 42 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions in filing suit in federal court to stop three government agencies from implementing a mandate that would require them cover contraceptives and sterilization in their health plans.

Catholic organizations have objected to the contraceptive mandate since it was announced last Aug. 1 by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Unless they meet the four criteria of a narrow religious exemption or have a grandfathered health plan, employers will be required to pay for sterilizations and contraceptives as part of their health coverage beginning as soon as Aug. 1, 2012. Religiously affiliated institutions will be given an additional year — by August 2013 — to comply with the mandate.

Garvey, writing for the Chronicle, noted that if the federal government had provided a “genuine accommodation” to Catholic organizations with the health care law, it could have attained its goals “while respecting fully the constitutionally protected rights of our universities to remain true to our founding missions: the development of intellect and the inculcation of virtue.”

“Barring that, we feel compelled to seek relief from the courts,” he wrote.

In the Post, Garvey said Catholic institutions that filed suit against the HHS mandate “object that the rules force them to support activities — sterilization and abortion, in addition to contraception — that they view as immoral. It’s like compelling Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, or Quakers to fight or Jews to eat pork.”

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik has written a similar commentary in USA Today that appeared yesterday. He also co-wrote a June 8 column in the Pittsburgh Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, discussing the reason for the lawsuits.

‘For Greater Glory’ is a ‘strong film with a timely message’ about religious liberty, says archbishop

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez at premiere of “For Greater Glory.” (CNS photo/Reuters)

It’s not every day a Catholic archbishop welcomes a host of Hollywood celebrities at a movie premiere, but that was the scene on the red carpet May 31, when Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez greeted the stars of the new movie “For Greater Glory,” among them Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui. The film, opening yesterday in theaters, is about the 1920s Cristero Rebellion in Mexico.

“The anti-Catholic persecutions in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s are long forgotten, it seems. The reality is hard to believe,” the archbishop wrote in his May 29 column for The Tidings, newspaper of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. “Just a generation ago, not far from our borders, thousands of men, women and even children, were imprisoned, exiled, tortured and murdered. All for the ‘crime’ of believing in Jesus Christ and wanting to live by their faith in him.

“So I welcome the new film, ‘For Greater Glory.’ It tells the dramatic story of this unknown war against religion and our church’s heroic resistance. It’s a strong film with a timely message. It reminds us that our religious liberties are won by blood and we can never take them for granted.”

Catholic News Service reviewer John Mulderig echoed that sentiment in his review: The Mexican government’s tyrannical interference with religious liberty, while obviously far more extreme than anything taking place north of the border today, nonetheless carries a sobering resonance with current events.

“If the film can be taken as a cautionary tale about where excessively zealous, overweening secularism can lead a nation, the warning is a stark one.”

The Catholic Church has canonized 25 martyrs of the rebellion and beatified even more. The most famous of the martyrs is St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez, a popular patron of Mexican migrants. On March 25,  the second full day of his two-day visit to Mexico before he traveled to Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Silao, in the central state of Guanajuato, the country’s Catholic heartland and a stronghold of the 1920s Cristero Rebellion.

On Blessed Kateri’s feast day in Canada, a video reflection on her life

Here in the United States we don’t celebrate the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha until July 14. But in Canada her feast day is today, the date of her death in 1680.

To celebrate the feast, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Television in Canada, to produce this video reflection on the life of Blessed Kateri, who will be made a saint Oct. 21:

The new evangelization, explained

Archbishop Fisichella (CNS/Paul Haring)

If you’ve been following the pontificate of Benedict XVI, chances are you’ve heard of the “new evangelization.” You may even have heard that there’s a new Vatican office dedicated to it. But have you ever heard the president of the new office explain it?

In this feature-length interview which premiered on Easter, Salt + Light Television‘s Basilian Father Thomas Rosica sat down for an interview with the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella. What follows is an engaging discussion on its meaning and what Archbishop Fisichella’s office is trying to accomplish. While some pastors may see it as just another program to be implemented by an overworked presbyterate, the archbishop calls the new evangelization a new way of approaching an old job — “a new work, a new language, a new enthusiasm for announcing the Gospel.”

Last-minute Lenten reflections

If you’re looking for some quick ways to reflect on the meaning of Lent as you finish up Holy Week, here something you may want to check out. Salt + Light TV in Toronto had Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa do a series of quick Lenten reflections. They’re all two minutes or less in length, so they’re easy to digest. This one, for instance, is on how the prophets call us to reconciliation and repentance.

Others that you can sample are on the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, why we focus on baptism during Lent, and how the life of King David reflects humanity’s need for redemption.

U.S. bishop featured by Canadian Catholic TV network

Our friends at Salt + Light TV in Toronto recently spoke with Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City for its series of one-on-one interviews called “Witness.”  Bishop Wester is the new chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications and a former chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.

As the only Catholic bishop in Utah, he also is at the forefront of Catholicism’s relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So topics he discusses here include the differences between his native San Francisco and his current home city and how the Catholic Church and the Mormon community both emphasize family values and care for the poor. He also speaks eloquently on immigration reform and on contemporary challenges for the church in modern communications.

New video highlights work of priests, in their own words

Our friends at Salt + Light Television, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry, sent along this video they produced for Toronto’s annual “Ordinandi Dinner” for seminarians who will be ordained this year. (Here’s a story posted today by another longtime CNS friend, The Catholic Register in Toronto, on this week’s dinner.)

In the fast-paced video, about a dozen priests (they’ll come at you so quickly you’ll lose count) give their testimonies to what their priesthood means to them. It’s a celebration of ordained life. Take a look:

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