A saint for those who bark (and meow)

Sister St. John, of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, holds Marlie during the blessing of the animals at the Franciscan Monastery.

Sister St. John, of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, holds Marlie during the blessing of the animals at the Franciscan Monastery.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -– A few fights broke out among the dogs, including the dapper ones who dressed up for the occasion. A parakeet was silenced by the cacophony of barks. The cats merely tolerated everyone else.

One pup couldn’t take the pressure, got loose and ran for freedom but soon was caught and forced to sit tight today during the blessing of the animals at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.

On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscan Father Greg Friedman told the pet lovers gathered at the monastery the tale of St. Francis befriending a wolf in the Italian town of Gubbio, even when the angry townsfolk wanted to kill the animal.

“Francis was willing to befriend anything that God created,” said Father Friedman.

The saint’s message was one of creating peace and promoting harmony, he said. While that may not have gotten through to the barking dogs in the crowd, at least one pair of pets — a dog and a cat that arrived together in the same carrier — seemed to live in the Franciscan spirit.  For more photos, see our photo gallery on our Catholic News Service Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CatholicNewsService/photos/pcb.10152321613445723/10152321595360723/?type=1&theater

The synod by the numbers

VATICAN CITY — The extraordinary Synod of Bishops formally opens with Mass Sunday and begins its working sessions at the Vatican Monday morning.

Synod 2014Pope Francis is expected to attend all of the working sessions, along with 253 other people.

By the numbers:

– 191 voting members are expected: 162 attending because of the office they hold (114 presidents of bishops’ conferences, 25 heads of Vatican offices, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic churches, and 10 members of the synod council); three elected by the men’s Union of Superiors General; and 26 named by Pope Francis.

– Of the 191, 42 come from Africa, 38 from the Americas, 29 from Asia, 78 from Europe and four from Oceania and the South Pacific. The voting members include 61 Latin-rite cardinals, one Eastern-rite cardinal, seven Eastern patriarchs, 67 archbishops, 47 bishops, one auxiliary bishop and seven priests.

– The synod members will be assisted by 16 synod staff members and appointed experts (also referred to as collaborators), including one married couple. Members also will hear from and work in small groups with 38 observers (auditors), including 12 married couples.

– In addition, eight other Christian churches and communities will send delegates as a sign of their shared concern for the pastoral care of families today.

Participants in the 2012 Synod of Bishops in the Vatican synod hall with Pope Benedict XVI. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Participants in the 2012 Synod of Bishops in the Vatican synod hall with Pope Benedict XVI. (CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope Francis’ baseball moment

By now, more than 24 hours after it happened, there are probably only a few dozen people who haven’t seen Pope Francis bobble the baseball thrown to him from the stands — er, the crowd of pilgrims — at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square yesterday.

If you’re one who hasn’t seen it, watch this closely:

Here’s a better shot, taken by Claudio Peri and distributed by the European Pressphoto Agency:

Pope Francis reaches out to grab a baseball thrown by someone in the crowd as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square Sept. 24.  (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA)

Pope Francis reaches out to grab a baseball thrown by someone in the crowd as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 24. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA)

As you can see in the video, Pope Francis leaps and almost catches the high throw. According to Rafael Walter, who posted the “Popeball” video to YouTube, the toss was made by a member of the Koeppel family from St. Edward’s Church in Palm Beach, Fla., reportedly in the hope of raising money for their parish.

For anyone who knows baseball, the error is on the throw, not on the attempted catch.

CNEWA gets Raskob grant for clinics for displaced Iraqis

Aid officials have cited a need for hospitals for displaced Iraqi minorities who fled Islamic State fighters. (CNS/Sahar Mansour)

Aid officials have cited a need for health care for displaced Iraqi minorities who fled Islamic State fighters. (CNS/Sahar Mansour)

NEW YORK — The Raskob Foundation has awarded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association an emergency grant so it can open two additional medical clinics serving displaced Christians in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.

The agency’s local partners have cited pressing health concerns for the 4,530 Iraqi Christian families living temporarily in the cities of Dohuk and Zahko. They are among Iraqi minorities who have fled advancing Islamic State fighters.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena will administer the clinics and will coordinate their efforts with Chaldean and Syriac Catholic priests responsible for relief efforts in Dohuk and Zahko, respectively.

Bishop Cupich named to succeed Cardinal George as Chicago archbishop

Archbishop Cupich (CNS photo)

Archbishop Cupich (CNS photo)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -– Pope Francis has named Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, as archbishop of Chicago, succeeding Cardinal Francis E. George, who has headed the archdiocese since 1997.

The appointment was announced Sept. 20 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Archbishop Cupich will be installed in Chicago during a special Mass Nov. 18.

Cardinal George is 77, two years past the age when bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope.

The cardinal was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006 and had a recurrence of cancer announced in 2012. In August it was announced that he was participating in a clinical research trial for a new cancer drug.

His health concerns have stepped up the process of searching for his successor as archbishop of Chicago.

In an April 11 news conference he told reporters: “It’s a question of being able to spend your entire energy on what is my responsibility as archbishop of Chicago. This is a position that demands a lot of constant attention.”

“Now it looks as if I’m going to have to be spending a little more attention on my health and so it’s just not fair to the archdiocese to have someone who may not be able to do the job as well as I believe it should be done,” he added.

Archbishop Cupich, 65, has been bishop of Spokane since 2010 after having served as bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, since 1998. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, he was born in 1949, the grandson of Croatian immigrants. He was ordained a priest for the Omaha Archdiocese in 1975.

In his ministry as a priest, he served as an associate pastor and pastor, teacher, seminary rector, and as a member of the staff of the apostolic nunciature in Washington.

The archbishop chairs the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and is former chair of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Cardinal George is the first native Chicagoan to serve as archbishop of Chicago. He was born in 1937 and attended schools in Illinois before entering the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1957. He was ordained a priest Dec. 21, 1963. He was his order’s vicar general in Rome from 1974 to 1986.

The cardinal has often said that one of his goals is to live to see retirement since all of the other Chicago bishops died in office. His predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, died in 1996 at age 68 of pancreatic cancer.

A five-month bout with polio when Cardinal George was 13 damaged both of his legs, forcing him to use a brace on his right leg. He walks with a pronounced limp.

He was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.

He was made a cardinal in 1998. Before his appointment to Chicago, he was archbishop of Portland, Oregon, and before that bishop of Yakima, Washington.

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.”

9/11 ‘can’t become just another day as the years pass’

'Tribute of Light' illuminates New York on 2013 anniversary of 9/11. (CNS photo/Reuters)

‘Tribute in Light’ illuminates New York on 2013 anniversary of 9/11. (CNS photo/Reuters)

This evening the “Tribute in Light” — two beams of light symbolizing the former twin towers of the World Trade Center — will illuminate the New York skyline as the city’s observance of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks comes to a close.

The day began with the somber recitation of the names of the victims of the 2001 attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people in New York, Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon.

In New York, names were read from the site of the national 9/11 Memorial -– made up of a museum, a plaza and reflecting pools. Built on eight acres of the land previously occupied by the trade center, the complex pays tribute to the lives lost. New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral maintains a space on its website inviting people to share their memories of that fateful day.

In Shanksville, events at the National Park Service’s memorial to 9/11 included the first public display of the Congressional Gold Medal honoring the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. A Congressional Gold Medal is highest civilian award U.S. Congress can give.

The southwestern Pennsylvania memorial was built in a field where Flight 93 crashed, forced to the ground by passengers who took control of the plane from terrorists who planned to fly to Washington.

At today’s ceremony there, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, who was speaker of the House the year of the attacks, paid tribute to the 33 who died in Shanksville. According to an AP story, he said that the U.S. Capitol “may not have remained standing” if the passengers and crew had not banded together to thwart the hijackers’ attempt to fly to the nation’s capital. Hastert donated to the park the flag that flew atop the Capitol on 9/11.

Large U.S. flag blows in wind outside national shrine in Washington on eve of 9/11 anniversary. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Large U.S. flag blows in wind outside national shrine in Washington on eve of 9/11 anniversary. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

At the Pentagon, Father Donald Rutherford, a major general and the Army’s chief of chaplains, was among those participating in a 9/11 observance there. Father Michael Parisi, a U.S. Navy chaplain who  holds the rank of captain, celebrated Mass in the chapel located in the part of the Pentagon where the 9/11 plane crashed.

Anniversary events and tributes to the victims of 9/11 took place all over the country.

“We will never forget the events of Sept. 11, 2001. It can’t become just another day as the years pass, and more and more people who were not born at the time or are too young to remember the day must not grow up without a sense of what occurred,” said an editorial in The Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York.

“Take the time and thank God for the gift of the lives of those men and women whom we loved and lost and whom we long to see again. A popular slogan after Sept. 11, 2001, read ‘9/11 – Never Forget.’ As men and women of faith, hope and charity, let’s never forget, and let’s teach the next generation to understand exactly what happened on that fateful Tuesday morning.”


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