New Connecticut bishop plans to ‘repurpose’ residence

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut. (CNS photo/Greg Shemitz)

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut. (CNS photo/Greg Shemitz)

When he was installed as head of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, just a year ago, and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano urged his new flock to be builders of spiritual bridges. He used a famous image of his hometown — the Brooklyn Bridge — to describe how, like a physical bridge, a “spiritual bridge” pulls communities together draws Catholics closer to God, the Gospels and one another as members of the body of Christ.

“On my first day of ministry in your midst, I ask you to join with me hand in hand, heart to heart, to become builders of spiritual bridges with the help and grace of the Lord and his Holy Spirit,” he said in his homily during his installation Mass last September.

It’s been a busy first year for the bishop, and he recently made some headlines delivering his first “state of the diocese” address.  Among other things he announced plans to “repurpose” the nearly 9,000-square- foot bishop’s residence, as National Catholic Reporter put it, and use it once again for the diocesan seminary.

There are details to work out, but his announcement seems in keeping with Pope Francis’ spirit of simplicity and his example of poverty and humility.

The Fairfield County Catholic, Bridgeport’s diocesan newspaper, reported that in his Sept. 9 address at All Saints School auditorium in Norwalk, Bishop Caggiano outlined the pastoral, administrative and financial challenges facing the diocese, and said he expects to make a “state of the diocese” address a yearly event under his tenure.

His 50-minute talk was well received, the paper said, by the audience of 500 lay leaders, pastors and synod delegates. He was interrupted several times by applause and received a standing ovation at the end of his remarks. The diocese’s 350 synod delegates will soon begin their work “to help plan the future of the Catholic Church in Fairfield County.”

Walkers spent their summer taking pro-life message cross-country

This year’s Crossroads cross-country treks ended almost two weeks ago, but the participants who spent most of their summer walking from coast to coast on behalf of the pro-life movement hope their efforts will have a lasting impact.

Last year was Tyler Cutrer’s first Crossroads walk. He signed up “on a whim,” he said, but found it such a transformational experience, he was back this year for his second walk and has taken a full-time job with the organization.

Crossroads was founded in 1995 by Steve Sanborn, a student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, in response to a call by St. John Paul II during World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 — that youth around the globe take an active role in the pro-life movement “to establish a culture of life.”

It sponsors three simultaneous pro-life walks/pilgrimages across the United States; a fourth takes place in Canada.

Crossroads walker Caleb on southern route. (Photo/Crossroads blog)

Crossroads walker Caleb Courville on northern route. (Photo/Crossroads blog)

The northern U.S. route starts in Seattle; the central route, in San Francisco; and the southern route, in Los Angeles. All three walks, which this year were May 24 to Aug. 16, end in Washington, D.C., with a pro-life rally. The Canadian walk goes from Vancouver, British Columbia, and ends in the capital of Ottawa, Ontario, with pro-life rally there. Crossroads now hosts walks in Ireland, Spain and Australia, too.

Wearing “Pro-Life” T-shirts, walkers stop along the way to pray outside abortion clinics, speak at parishes and schools to raise awareness about abortion and promote the dignity of human life, and encourage others to get involved in the pro-life movement.

Walkers range in age from 18 to 25. This year a total of 35 participated. On each route, they are accompanied by an RV, and split into two groups that walk in a relay fashion, averaging 40 to 50 miles a day. One group takes the morning shift, from sunrise and to 2 p.m.; the second group walks from 2 p.m. to sunset.

As one group walks, the other cleans the RV, prepares dinner, and finds a camp site for the night. The whole group gathers for Mass each day. The walkers post photos of their journey and observations they have along the way on a blog. Each walk has a leader.

Cutrer, 23, led this year’s southern walk.

He said last year he led the northern walk. He had just graduated from college, and was “young, dumb and not keeping eye on future,” he told Catholic News Service. “I was nervous about what to do” after college, so he joined a Crossroads walk for personal reasons, thinking it might be “a good spiritual pilgrimage and a chance to be a part of God’s mission.”

“The walk completely transformed my entire outlook,” he said.

Cutrer, who is from Dallas and relocating to the Washington area for the Crossroads job, said he always considered himself pro-life but “had never pondered the issue” or thought about “how serious the battle is.”

After praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic during the 2013 walk “and watching mothers walk in and out all morning, I had a very burning passion to do something about (abortion). … That is when I definitely became unconditionally pro-life and a witness.”

He wants to encourage more men to get involved in the pro-life movement, he said. “It is a much a man’s issue” as a woman’s, he said.

“My huge passion is to tell guys they shouldn’t be on the sidelines,” Cutrer said. “You hear countless stories of ‘my boyfriend drove me’ to get an abortion, ‘my boyfriend urged me’ to get one. Occasionally –- sadly — you’ll see a parent or grandparent bring them, but the majority of time you’re watching the boyfriend walk the girl to the door (of the clinic).”

“Men need to be pro-life” for women’s sake and to stand up for their unborn child, he added.

Molly Sheahan, 20, who is from Sacramento, California, and attends Franciscan University, walked the central route. It was her first Crossroads.

“I had several friends who had walked before,” she said. “I heard about it from a walker who came to my parish and was inspired by their witness, their joy, their passion for activism.”

As her group walked, people would turn out to encourage them to carry on.

That showed Sheahan people want “to see some kind of hope” that abortion can be ended and “walkers give them hope.”

“I’ve always very involved in pro-life movement,” she added. “When I was 9 I first heard about abortion and I was shocked it was legal and decided it would be my job to end it.”

At age 10 she wrote a letter to the editor about abortion and by age 12 she was already involved in a student pro-life group.

“More and more, young people are inspired to get involved in the pro-life movement,” Sheahan added, because they understand that “in the human level, it is the greatest human rights cause of our time.”

Crossroads walker Eric Zlatos, of Manassas, Virginia, has always been “staunchly pro-life.” The 2014 Ave Maria University graduate took the northern route.

Crossroads walkers visit the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. (Photo/Crossroads)

Crossroads walkers visit the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. (Photo/Crossroads blog)

“We don’t choose Crossroads, Crossroads chooses us,” he told CNS. The chance to participate “just fell in my lap.” He welcomed the opportunity “to be able to touch the lives of others one heart at a time, one step at a time.”

“I cannot event even describe” Crossroads, said Zlatos, 22. “It was an incredible experience.”

It might seem like you are not doing much walking on the side of the road, he said, but “young people at parishes and older people alike come up to us and thank us for (our) testimony and witness. They were very supportive.

“The media so skewed against our position, they often make it seem like most of America is pro-death,” he said, but Crossroads walkers experience “firsthand that is simply not the case. America is most definitely pro-life. … That was very encouraging to me.”

At one stop, he recalled, an elderly man tapped him on the chest and told him, “It takes a real man to wear this shirt,” meaning Zlatos’ Crossroads T-shirt.

That reaction was “very powerful, authentic,” he said, and shows Crossroads has an impact.

Using social media, family of slain journalist asks public not to watch beheading video


His family has taken to social media, using Facebook and Twitter to express their sorrow, accept his death, ask for privacy and ask others to refrain from sharing or watching the graphic images of their loved one’s beheading.

“We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people,” said Diane Foley, mother of U.S. freelance journalist James Foley, believed to have been beheaded by captors from the group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL).

The group released this week a video purportedly of a militant decapitating James Foley. The New York Times reported today that American intelligence agencies verified its authenticity. In a statement, Diane Foley said her son, a Marquette University 1996 graduate, who had been captured in late 2012, was “an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”

His sister, Kelly Foley, took to Twitter asking others not to watch the video or share it in any form.

“Please honor James Foley and respect my family’s privacy. Don’t watch the video. Don’t share it. That’s not how life should be.”

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said on Twitter that anyone sharing the images of the event would have their accounts suspended.

“We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you.”

The journalist’s account, of a prior detention in Libya appeared in Marquette magazine, and has been making the rounds today in Catholic blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter, with excerpts from it in the CNS story today on Foley’s killing. In the piece titled “Phone call home,” he wrote that praying the rosary and the prayers of others helped him survive the ordeal.

In April 2013, the Marquette University community held a prayer vigil for Foley — he has disappeared in Syria before Thanksgiving 2012. His parents traveled to Milwaukee from their home in New Hampshire to be part of the event. At the time, the Foleys in an interview talked at length about their strong Catholic faith and their reliance on prayer to see them through missing their much-loved son.

More from Pope Francis’ inflight news conference

UPDATE: Watch the pope’s discussion on how to stop militant aggression against religious minorities in Iraq in this CNS video:

VATICAN CITY — For those who want even more than what our story yesterday contained, here are a few additional outtakes from Pope Francis’ inflight news conference yesterday:

– On China and being the first pope to receive permission to fly through Chinese airspace:

He said that on the flight to South Korea Aug. 13, “when we were about to enter Chinese airspace, I was in the cockpit with the pilots and one of them showed me the flight log and said, ‘In 10 minutes we will enter Chinese airspace; we must ask authorization. … We always ask, it’s normal to ask every country.’ And I heard how they request authorization, and the response. I witnessed that. And the pilot said, ‘Now we’ll send the telegram,’ but I don’t know how they did that.”

Pope Francis answers questions Aug. 18 during the flight from Seoul, South Korea, back to Rome. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis answers questions Aug. 18 during the flight from Seoul, South Korea, back to Rome. (CNS/Paul Haring)

– On his planned trip to Albania Sept. 21:

“Why am I going to Albania? For two reasons. First, because they have been able to form a government — think about the Balkans — they have a government of national unity made up of Muslims, Orthodox (and) Catholics with an interreligious council that helps a lot and is balanced. This is going well, it’s harmonious. The presence of the pope will say to the people, ‘See, you can work together!’ and I thought it would be a real help for that noble people. And another thing: If you think about the history of Albania, religiously it was the only communist country that enshrined atheism in its constitution. If you went to Mass, it was unconstitutional. And one of the ministries told me that — I want to be precise with the figures — 1,820 churches, Orthodox and Catholic, were destroyed in that period. And other churches were (transformed) into cinemas, theaters, dance halls. I felt like I should go. It’s close, the trip can be done in a day.”

– On his relationship with retired Pope Benedict XVI:

“Before leaving I went to visit him. And two weeks earlier he had sent me an interesting text and asked my opinion about it.”

The pope said he and his retired predecessor have “a normal relationship,” similar to the relationship between a diocesan bishop and the diocese’s retired bishop. “I think that having a pope emeritus will not be an exception” forever. Pope Benedict’s decision to retire because of his age and his perception that the church needed a more energetic pope “was a beautiful gesture of nobility and also humility and courage.” By retiring, “he opened an institutional door. Our relationship really is one of brothers, but I also have said that it is like having a grandfather in the house because of his wisdom.”

– On current wars, tensions and torture:

“Someone said to me, ‘But you know, Father, we are in the Third World War,’” one that is being fought in many little pieces. “It is a world at war where these cruelties are committed. I want to dwell on two words: first, cruelty. Today children don’t count. It used to be that people spoke of a conventional war, (but) today that doesn’t count. I’m not saying that conventional wars are a good thing — no. But today bombs are dropped and the innocent are slaughtered along with the guilty — children, women, their moms, everyone is slaughtered. We must stop and think about the level of cruelty at which we have arrived. This should frighten us!”

“And the other word, which is related, and which I want to say something about is torture. Today torture is, I would say, almost an ordinary behavior of intelligence services and judicial processes…. And torture is a sin against humanity, a crime against humanity. I would say to Catholics: To torture someone is a mortal sin, it is a serious sin. But it’s more than that, it is a sin against humanity.”

Pope Francis listens to a journalist's question on the flight back to Rome. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis listens to a journalist’s question on the flight back to Rome. (CNS/Paul Haring)

– On whether he feels like a prisoner in the Vatican:

“No, no, no. At the beginning, yes, but now some walls have fallen.” He said at the beginning of his pontificate he would hear or at least perceive sentences beginning “The popes cannot…” followed by something that would be normal for most people. “Here’s an example to make you laugh: I’d go to get the elevator and immediately someone would come because the pope could not go down in the elevator alone.” He said he made it clear, “’Go back to your place; I’m going down alone.’ And that was the end of it.”

– On whether, given the fighting in Israel and the Gaza Strip, he sees as a failure his June 8 prayer for peace at the Vatican with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

“That prayer for peace absolutely was not a failure,” he said. “These two men are men of peace, men who believe in God and have seen many ugly things, so many ugly things that they are convinced the only path for resolving the situation there is through negotiation, dialogue and peace.”

The prayer was an important step forward, he said. “Right now the smoke of the bombs, of the wars, make it impossible to see the door, but the door has remained open since that moment. And because I believe in God, I believe that the Lord watches that door and those who pray and all those who ask for his help.”

– On what he was going to do as soon as he got back to Rome:

“From the airport I will go to Mary (the Basilica of St. Mary Major): it’s something beautiful. Dr. Giani (the chief of security) ordered flowers in Korea with the Korean colors, but leaving the nunciature a little girl came with a bouquet of flowers — roses — and we said, ‘We’ll take these flowers to Mary as a gift from a Korean girl.’ And that’s what we’ll do. From the airport, we will go pray a bit, and then go home.”

Setting a record for sacred #selfies

Past popes have set a variety of records, but Pope Francis seems sure to be setting the record for papal selfies.

Pope Francis poses with South Korean journalist Jung Ae Ko of Joongang Ilbo newspaper. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis poses with South Korean journalist Jung Ae Ko of Joongang Ilbo newspaper. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Even aboard the papal flight to Seoul, South Korea, in mid-August, Pope Francis posed for selfies with some of the Vatican press corps.

To be fair, the technology for selfies was not as prevalent for past popes. But then again, air travel was not as prevalent as when St. John Paul II set a record for papal travels.

A selfie after youth luncheon at the major seminary in Daejeon, South Korea, Aug. 15. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano, pool)

A selfie after youth luncheon at the major seminary in Daejeon, South Korea, Aug. 15. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano, pool)

But can you imagine not only eating lunch with Pope Francis, but posing for a photo with him afterward?

Selfies are not a new phenomenon for this pope. People are glad to be seen with him, even if it means just catching a shot as he drives through St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile.

A man takes a selfie of himself and Pope Francis as the pope arrives for his general audience in St. Peter's Square Jan. 22. (CNS/Paul Haring)

A man takes a selfie of himself and Pope Francis as the pope arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 22. (CNS/Paul Haring)



At stadium Mass, pope tells Koreans to resist materialism

The opening procession as Pope Francis prepares to celebrate Mass for the feast of the Assumption in Daejeon, South Korea. (CNS/Paul Haring)

The opening procession as Pope Francis prepares to celebrate Mass for the feast of the Assumption in Daejeon, South Korea. (CNS/Paul Haring)

SEOUL, South Korea — Celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary in South Korea, Pope Francis prayed that Christian values would overcome demoralization in economically successful societies.

“The hope held out by the Gospel is the antidote to the spirit of despair that seems to grow like cancer in societies which are outwardly affluent yet often experience inner sadness and emptiness,” the pope said Aug. 15 in his homily at the World Cup Stadium in Daejeon.

With some 50,000 people gathered for the Mass, the pope voiced his hope that Christians in South Korea, the world’s 13th-largest economy, might “combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife.”

“May they also reject inhumane economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalize workers, and the culture of death which devalues the image of God, the God of life, and violates the dignity of every man, woman and child,” he said.

At the end of Mass, before praying the Angelus, the pope mourned the approximately 300 people killed in the April sinking of the Sewol ferry, some of whose relatives he had met briefly before the start of Mass.

“May this tragic event which has brought all Koreans together in grief confirm their commitment to work together in solidarity for the common good,” he said.

Pope Francis’ sobering words stood in contrast to the ebullience of the crowd, and of the pope himself, as he entered the stadium in an open-sided popemobile. The pope, who had traveled the 85 miles from Seoul by train instead of helicopter as originally planned, was greeted by thousands of people performing the wave and holding signs of welcome, including a banner reading “We love you” in Italian.

The day was overcast but warm and humid, with temperatures reaching the mid-80s. Before the Mass, members of the congregation were asked not fan themselves with the hats or booklets during the liturgy. Many women wore white lace veils, a tradition still widely practiced in Korea.

The pope celebrated the Mass in Latin, with the readings and responses in Korean. He delivered his homily in Italian.

60 years of praying the Angelus with the popes

VATICAN CITY — Every Sunday and on many holy days, tens of thousands of people gather in St. Peter’s Square to recite the Angelus prayer with the pope.

And they have done so for 60 years.

Pope Benedict XVI in "the second window from the right" in 2013. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI in “the second window from the right” in 2013. (CNS/Reuters)

It is such a fixture of life at the Vatican and in Rome that tours to the Vatican include a guide pointing up to the Apostolic Palace and telling people, “The second window from the right” is where the pope stands on Sundays to lead the Marian prayer.

The prayer gets its name from its opening words in Latin — the language the popes use for their recitation of the prayer: “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae” (“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary”).

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, carried an article yesterday describing the first public papal recitation of the prayer. It was Aug. 15, 1954, and Pope Pius XII was at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence. Pope Pius had proclaimed 1954 a Marian Year and members of Italian Catholic Action wanted to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary with special prayers.

Pope Pius XII at the window.  (CNS file photo)

Pope Pius XII at the window. (CNS file photo)

For centuries popes recited the Angelus in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Church bells throughout Italy and across Europe would ring to remind the faithful to stop and pray, honoring Mary’s role in the incarnation of Jesus.

Pope Pius fulfilled Catholic Action’s request to pray with him by allowing Vatican Radio into the summer villa to broadcast his midday recitation live.

“The experience must have pleased Pius XII because that autumn he willingly agreed to recite the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square from the window of his office. Since that time, the world has come to know that window well,” L’Osservatore’s story said.

The official promoters’ of Pope Pius’ sainthood cause have upload a recording of that first Angelus address. You can listen to it by going to their website and clicking on the bar just above the detail from Jean-Francois Millet’s painting, “The Angelus.”


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