Video: Cardinals-to-be on their role

We spoke this week with the three North American prelates who will become cardinals tomorrow. You can read CNS Rome bureau chief Francis X. Rocca story here and/or watch the video below.

Just between us

Nearly a week before the start of this year’s Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, I got a phone call from Father Sinclair Oubre, head of the Catholic Labor Network, one of the gathering’s many co-sponsors that holds a “wrap-around” meeting the day before the formal kickoff.

The discussion topics at the Catholic Labor Network meeting, he told me, would be off-the-record so that participants could speak candidly, although I would be free to talk to speakers afterward to offer comments for the record. Father Oubre then told me, “You’ll probably be getting some more calls like this.”

Technically, it wasn’t a call, but I did receive an email a couple of days later from Ian Mitchell, the Catholic social teaching education coordinator for the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development. Also off-the-record would be the issue briefings and the state captains’ meetings on the first full day of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, but all of the strategy sessions on the gathering’s last day (which, I presume, included the Our Father that kicked off one of those strategy sessions) (oops).

No matter. Many speakers were happy to release their comments for on-the-record status, and follow-up interviews proved beneficial.

But I can remember one time when a speaker may have wished for an off-the-record proviso.

It was 2003. George W. Bush, a self-styled “compassionate conservative,” was in the White House. Republicans had strengthened their hold on the House and had regained the Senate — the first time that had happened since before Franklin D. Roosevelt — and they weren’t necessarily feeling as compassionate as the president. Moreover, Americans were half-anticipating, half-dreading going to war in Iraq.

It was in this atmosphere that Nancy Wisdo, now retired but at that time the head of the U.S. bishops’ domestic polify office, was outlining for Catholic Social Ministry Gathering participants methods of winning congressional support for more tax relief for low-income families. She said that going into the fine points of a tax-relief formula would only divert attention from the bishops’ broader agenda.

“We don’t have to understand. All we have to do is win. That’s our motto,” Wisdo said.

Perhaps a week after the gathering, Wisdo accosted me in the cafeteria at the U.S. bishops’ headquarters to ask why I had included that quote in my article. I replied that it was illustrative of the frustrations people were feeling in the political climate. I don’t think she entirely bought into my reasoning, but it seemed like she understood.

Cardinal-designate Dolan’s address to Pope Benedict and the College of Cardinals

Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York is in Rome for a Feb. 18 consistory at which he will be made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. (CNS photo/Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan has a great sense of humor so it came as no surprise to see his talk to Pope Benedict and the College of Cardinals this morning peppered with witticism and funny anecdotes.

His charm was so contagious he even made Pope Benedict laugh.

One cardinal told us the bit that tickled the pope the most was at the end when the archbishop of New York apologized for having to give his talk in Italian:

“Thank you, Holy Father and brethren, for your patience with my primitive Italian. When Cardinal Bertone asked me to give this address in Italian, I worried, because I speak Italian like a child.

But, then I recalled, that, as a newly-ordained parish priest, my first pastor said to me as I went over to school to teach the six-year old children their catechism, “Now we’ll see if all your theology sunk in, and if you can speak of the faith like a child.” And maybe that’s a fitting place to conclude: we need to speak again as a child the eternal truth, beauty, and simplicity of Jesus and His Church.”

Enjoy the full text of the soon-to-be Cardinal Dolan’s introduction during the cardinals’ “Day of Reflection and Prayer.”

The Announcement of the Gospel Today, Between missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization

Holy Father, Cardinal Sodano, my brothers in Christ:
Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!

It is as old as the final mandate of Jesus, “Go, teach all nations!,” yet as fresh as God’s Holy Word proclaimed at our own Mass this morning.

I speak of the sacred duty of evangelization. It is “ever ancient, ever new.” The how of it, the when of it, the where of it, may change, but the charge remains constant, as does the message and inspiration, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

We gather in the caput mundi, evangelized by Peter and Paul themselves, in the city from where the successors of St. Peter “sent out” evangelizers to present the saving Person, message, and invitation that is at the heart of evangelization: throughout Europe, to the “new world” in the “era of discovery,” to Africa and Asia in recent centuries. Continue reading