Canada welcomes new cardinal home with joyous celebration

Canada welcomed home its newest cardinal yesterday with a Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. The celebration for Cardinal Thomas C. Collins, the 16th Canadian to be elevated to the College of Cardinals, was covered live by our colleagues at Salt + Light Television, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry. Cardinal Collins was among the 22 prelates elevated to cardinal Feb. 18 by Pope Benedict XVI. You can watch Canada’s joyous celebration here:

You also can see a special report by Salt + Light on the making of a cardinal that focuses on Cardinal Collins. Our Rome bureau also had the pleasure of interviewing the new cardinal last month in Rome about the significance of the red that a cardinal wears.

A big day for lovers of Latin

Few know that today is the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope John XXIII’s apostolic constitution “Veterum Sapientia” on the promotion of the study of Latin. Watch the video below posted today by our Rome bureau on how one group of American students there is trying to keep the language alive.

When we asked this morning on Twitter if anyone knew of today’s anniversary, The Criterion, archdiocesan newspaper of Indianapolis, promptly tweeted back that they were aware of it because it was on their front page 50 years ago. Scroll down and take a look at a portion of Page 1 of their March 2, 1962, edition (.pdf) that trumpeted the story.

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Screenshot of the lead story on The Criterion's front page 50 years ago.

New cardinals not all from U.S. (thank God!)

Confession time: We Americans often are accused — and rightly so — of looking primarily at the U.S. angle to a worldwide story and forgetting to see the broader picture. And so it is with this weekend’s creation of 22 new cardinals for the worldwide church. We’re all focused here on the two Americans — Cardinals-designate Timothy M. Dolan and Edwin F. O’Brien — getting red hats from Pope Benedict XVI this Saturday. How many of us can name one of the remaining 20?

Cardinal-designate Collins (CNS/Paul Haring)

Canada, though, is certainly proud of its new entry into the College of Cardinals, Cardinal-designate Thomas C. Collins of Toronto, who will become the 16th Canadian to wear red.

Our colleagues in the Canadian Catholic press are celebrating his elevation with special sections and interviews. Here, for instance, is the launchpad for coverage of the cardinal-designate by The Catholic Register in Toronto. Included is the ability to browse the paper’s 44-page special section on the cardinal.

Our friends at Salt + Light, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry,  also are celebrating the event with a special series of telecasts from Rome called “The Making of a Cardinal.” The first and second parts are embedded below,  and you can go to Salt + Light’s YouTube channel for the rest as they’re produced.

(Our Rome bureau also interviewed Cardinal-designate Collins on the significance of the red that a cardinal wears; you can watch that here.)

Valentine’s Day in China

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many Chinese are adopting Western  cultural practices, and that includes Valentine’s Day. On the blog at UCA News, an Asian church news agency, writer Teresa Wang looks at how young people especially are celebrating Valentine’s Day, and she offers to alternative dates to celebrate love.

US bishops’ new communications chair talks about challenges

Our friends at Salt + Light, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry, last week posted an interview with Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City and Tim Reidy of America magazine on modern communications challenges and on U.S. immigration issues. Bishop Wester is former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration and was elected last fall to head their Committee on Communications. Reidy is America’s online editor.

Here they discuss the challenges — and opportunities — facing the church in spreading the Gospel to a mobile society. Later in the interview they discuss immigration reform and the responsibility of the church to speak out for principles that recognize the humanity of immigrants coming to the United States.

Honoring the ‘Immortal Chaplains’ of World War II

The chaplains were honored with a commemorative stamp in 1948. (Courtesy CatholicHotdish.com)

The editor of The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul, Minn., Joe Towalski, points out that flags are flying at half-staff today in Minnesota to honor the heroic sacrifice of four Army chaplains who died while saving others after their troop transport ship was torpedoed in the North Atlantic 60 years ago during World War II. Towalski notes that we had a story in 2002 on the chaplains’ sacrifice. You can read that story here after you read Towalski’s piece, which also includes links to the Immortal Chaplains Foundation to perpetuate the legacy of the men.

HHS ruling stirs editorial reaction in Catholic press

Catholic newspapers in their editorial pages have strongly and consistently criticized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since its Jan. 20 announcement that there will be no change to a narrowly drawn religious exemption to a new federal mandate that all private employers provide no-cost contraception and sterilization in their health care plans.

The HHS said churches and other religious organizations have exactly one year to get on board with this policy.

“The administration wants to make Americans co-conspirators in its efforts to institutionalize these unacceptable immoral practices. We cannot support this effort,” wrote Stephen Trosley, editor of The Catholic Telegraph in Cincinnati.

The St. Louis Review called the decision, announced by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “grossly counter to our fundamental right to free exercise of religion.”

It is, quite simply, moral dictatorship. It is an imperious decision made by bureaucrats who have no respect for the sanctity of human life or for the fundamental right of free people in a free society to act according to their consciences.”

The Jan. 26 unsigned editorial added: “We detest the Obama administration’s blatant disregard for life and liberty. If this mandate remains unchanged, many schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other faith-based organizations that serve diverse, frequently poor and vulnerable segments of our society may be forced to stop providing health care to their employees rather than include coverage of morally unacceptable ‘preventive services’ — a phrase properly applied to disease, not the miracle of pregnancy as Sibelius does.”

Our Sunday Visitor pointed out that the president unequivocally pledged respect for conscience rights, religious liberty and diversity of belief during his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in May 2009 and a round-table interview with Catholic journalists a few weeks later.

“And now the Catholic Church finds itself in the odd position of being the primary defender of tolerance, pluralism and the principles of liberal democracy against a government that seeks to coerce citizens into behavior that violates their consciences,” said the Catholic weekly newspaper’s editorial board in its Feb. 5 edition.

Michael Sean Winters, columnist for National Catholic Reporter, wrote that President Barack Obama lost his vote “when he declined to expand the exceedingly narrow conscience exemptions proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The issue of conscience protections is so foundational, I do not see how I ever could, in good conscience, vote for this man again.”

He said the president’s decision “essentially told us, as Catholics, that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us.” He also said it “shamefully” treats “those Catholics who went out on a limb” to support him.

Across the ocean, the British Catholic weekly newspaper, The Tablet, also weighed in, saying President Obama “made a serious mistake.”

The editorial pointed out that Obama “appears to have been taken in by the fact that most American Catholics do not have personal moral objections to contraception. He has failed to understand that what they mean by this is that contraception should be a matter for individual consciences. That is not compatible with imposing access to contraception by government regulation.”

The point secular opinion fails to grasp is that there are some things that should – must – be beyond the reach of state power, such as the freedom to make available contraception to employees of Catholic hospitals or not, or the freedom of Catholic childcare agencies to decide whether to accept gay couples as possible parents in adoption cases. Similarly, marriage, which stands at the core of civil society, is not something the state is free to tinker with.”

Catholic newspapers were not the only ones with something to say on this issue either.

A Jan. 23 Washington Post editorial  said the Obama administration “came down on the wrong side of a tough call.”

It said the best approach would have been for HHS to offer an exemption for religiously affiliated employers. Since it had already recognized the principle of a religious exemption, it  “should have expanded it.”

Instead, the Post said the ”administration’s feint at a compromise — giving such employers another year to figure out how to comply with the requirement — is unproductive can-kicking that fails to address the fundamental problem of requiring religiously affiliated entities to spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith.”

A Jan. 24 column in The Wall St. Journal examined how the decision is affecting Catholics across the board. The piece was headlined: “Obama offends the Catholic left: A contraceptive mandate provokes an unnecessary war.”

William McGurn, writes that the Obama administration’s decision predictably drew fire from Catholic bishops but “less predictable — and far more interesting,” he wrote, “has been the heat from the Catholic left, including many who have in the past given the president vital cover.”

Catholic liberals, he said, understand that if this ruling is left to stand, it “threatens the religious institutions closest to their hearts — those serving Americans in need, such as hospitals, soup kitchens and immigrant services.”

Mission Bangladesh: Visiting the country’s minority Catholics

Oblate Father Andrew Small, head of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, visits with Catholics in Banglasesh. Photo by Rock Ronald Rozario / UCA News

Did you know there are Catholics in Bangladesh?

Oblate Father Andrew Small, head of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, won’t get to visit all 344,000 Catholics, but he is visiting as many as he can during a weeklong visit to the predominantly Muslim Asian nation.

You can read about Father Small’s visit here, on the special site set up with coverage from our friends at UCA News.

Rev. King’s message of action, service remembered today

Sculpture of Rev. King at memorial in Washington. (CNS photo/ Bob Roller)

What the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “was talking and preaching about to us … is so relevant now. It’s what we as a people are fighting for now, as far as justice, peace and equality,” said Nova Nelson. She made the comments last October at the dedication of a new memorial to the slain civil rights leader in the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington. Today especially, the memorial is a focal point for celebrating  Rev. King’s life and legacy. Nelson — director of the Washington Archdiocese’s Mass Choir who also directs the gospel ensemble and children’s choir at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Washington — sang the national anthem at the dedication. She later noted in an interview with the Catholic Standard, Washington’s archdiocesan newspaper, that Rev. King drew his strength from his faith. That’s an example for all those who want to carry forth his work and message today, she said.  “No matter how much he was hated or rejected, he kept going because he believed in God and believed God would make a way, and he wasn’t afraid. He had to keep pushing for what God wanted him to do. Sometimes, we get doors closed in our faces. We have to keep pushing, knowing God is walking with us every step of the way.”

Mass in Rome memorializes Cardinal John Foley

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

ROME — Thirty days after the death of our friend Cardinal John P. Foley, his successor as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications celebrated Mass in his memory, recalling the late American prelate as a “man of God who became a man of communication.”

Archbishop Claudio Celli gives the homily during a Mass in memory of Cardinal John P. Foley in Rome Jan. 11. Cardinal Foley, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications for more than two decades, died Dec. 11 after a battle with leukemia. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Claudio M. Celli offered the traditional trigesimo Mass for Cardinal Foley at Rome’s Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, only a few blocks from St. Peter’s Square. Among his concelebrants were Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the council, and Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office. Among those attending the Mass were Marian Diaz, wife of the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and numerous members of the Vatican press corps.

In his homily, Archbishop Celli recalled the late cardinal’s last visit to the council’s offices early in 2011, shortly before he left Rome for his native Philadelphia for good. Weakened by the leukemia that would ultimately kill him, Cardinal Foley nevertheless showed his usual humor, referring to a bottle of Coca-Cola as American champagne.

In that meeting, Archbishop Celli said, the late cardinal acted in the role of teacher to his former colleagues, demonstrating how “suffering has at its disposal modes of expression that not even all the new (information) technology can ever match.”

“He had come to give us the last, most important lesson,” the archbishop said, “giving his best, as a communicator of course, but all the more so as a witness and faithful servant of the Word.”

Archbishop Celli paid tribute to Cardinal Foley’s civility: “He had the tone of one who, in confrontation, saw neither enemies nor adversaries” but people to whom he could show, “through an always cordial welcome, the benevolence of the Lord.”

Cardinal Foley (CNS/Bob Roller)

The archbishop recalled some of the highlights of Cardinal Foley’s career, including his stint at The Catholic Standard and Times in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and of course his 23 years at the council, where he led the Vatican into the Internet age and presided over the publication of studies on key issues in contemporary communications, including online pornography.

Visibly moved, Archbishop Celli concluded his homily by thanking God for “this wise and generous pastor who bore witness, up to the very end, to how the essence of communication may be translated into a true and authentic reality of communion.”

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