Catholic press ‘relic’ visits with communicators in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, always in fine humor, visited with Catholic communications professionals in his first trip since returning to Philadelphia from the Vatican in February.

The cardinal, who has leukemia, joined the gala at the Carnegie Museums as the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary. The cardinal sat in a chair to deliver his remarks after a glowing introduction by former CPA President Bob Zyskowski.

“It’s nice to be canonized without the inconvenience of dying,” the archbishop said, adding, “Pardon me for sitting, but I’m usually in bed by this time.”

The cardinal, who served as head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications for more than 23 years, first worked at The Catholic Standard and Times in Philadelphia in the 1960s and served as its editor 1970-84, when he was called to the Vatican. He told the gathering he had been involved in the CPA for 51 of its 100 years.

“I’m a relic,” he quipped.

The cardinal interspersed his prepared remarks with anecdotes from his career, sending Catholic communicators from the U.S., Canada, South Africa and even Australia into fits of laughter. But between the one-liners and tales of near-disasters on live radio and cafeteria duty for 800 high-school boys, the cardinal said he believed “the Catholic press continues to have a very important role to play in the work of the church in North America today.”

“Like the crucifix above the bed in every Catholic home, a Catholic publication in the living room or the family room is a continuing reminder of our identity as Catholics,” he said.

He added that “the Catholic press continues to have an important role in the work of information, formation, inspiration and continuing Catholic education.”

The cardinal also saluted the work of Catholic News Service.

“I continue to think that it is the best and most complete source of Catholic information in the world today,” he said seriously, then added, “I’ve accepted no payment for that statement.”

Bid to curb toxins in air wins praise in Catholic circles

The federal Environmental Protection Agency recently issued proposed standards to limit the amount of mercury and other toxins emitted by power plants into the air. That move has won praise from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.

CNS photo by Reuters

“Children, inside and outside the womb, are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment,” said a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson from Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “Their bodies, behaviors and size leave them more exposed than adults to such health hazards. Furthermore, since children are exposed to environmental hazards at an early age, they have more extended time to develop slowly progressing environmentally triggered illnesses.”

“Our position on controlling pollution from power plants is rooted in the Catholic Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life — especially in regards to the poor and vulnerable who disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental degradation,” said Sister Carole Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and CHA’s president and CEO, in her letter to Jackson supporting the proposed standards. “We encourage the EPA to adopt strong air quality policies in order to protect the health and welfare of both people and the planet, and we oppose industry and congressional pressure to weaken the proposed rules.”

“The links between mercury and human development, especially in the womb, are clear, and consistently pro-life Catholics should welcome these rules as a way to reduce the harm for our youngest citizens,” said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, in an email to Catholic News Service. “As climate change unfolds, I hope more Catholics will begin to make the connection between the way the U.S. generates most of its electricity and the need to conserve God’s beautiful creation.”