Pope confirms 44, including two U.S. teens

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis confirmed 44 people today, including two teens from Ridgewood, N.J.

It was a warm, sunny morning and the faces (not to mention the new suits and dresses) of the confirmation candidates were bright and shiny.

Pope Francis confirms Anthony Merejo

Anthony Merejo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, NJ, is confirmed by Pope Francis. (CNS/screen grab)

Using chrism oil to seal each candidate in the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis made the sign of the cross, then proceeded to rub the oil all over their foreheads. Each candidate got a quick peck on the cheek afterward.

In his homily, Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit brings “the new things of God. He comes to us and makes all things new; he changes us.”

If Christians allow it and are open to it, he said, the Holy Spirit starts making things new now, in this life. “The Holy Spirit is truly transforming us and through us he also wants to transform the world in which we live.”

“How beautiful it would be,” he said, if each person allowed himself or herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Each night he or she would be able to review the day and say, “Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love toward one of my friends, my parents, an older person.”

Pope Francis said he wanted to be realistic; “the journey of the church and our own personal journeys as Christians are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials.”

But the Holy Spirit gives believers the strength and courage to overcome trials, Pope Francis said. “Let’s not get discouraged,” he said. “We have the strength of the Holy Spirit to conquer these tribulations.”

“Remain steadfast in the journey of faith,” the pope said. “Listen carefully, young people, swim against the tide; it’s good for the heart, but it takes courage.”

The Holy Spirit is the source of the necessary courage, he said. “There are no difficulties, none, no trials or misunderstandings to fear if we remain united to God.”

Colorado silver to be part of papal liturgical vessels

Zachary Urban, parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Wheat Ridge, Colo., sent Colorado silver to an Argentine silversmith who is making the pope’s new liturgical vessels. “It all kind of fell together,” Urban told the Denver Catholic Register. He shipped three ounces of silver extracted from the gold in a mine in Alma, Colo., to silversmith Adrian Pallarols in late March. The silver will be used to craft one of several vessels needed during papal Masses.

“We wanted to make this happen as a gift on behalf of our parish and the citizens of Colorado,” Urban said.  Before the silver was sent, Father Jason Thuerauf, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul blessed it with holy water. Urban met Pallarols, a seventh-generation silversmith, on his honeymoon when he and his wife purchased an item from his store. When he found out an Argentine silversmith would be making liturgical vessels for the pope he sent Pallarols a message to see if that was him.

Silver in wooden box before it was shipped to Argentine silversmith. (Photo by Zachary Urban)

Silver in wooden box before it was shipped to Argentine silversmith. (Photo by Zachary Urban)

When he learned that it was Pallarols, Urban purchased $145 of silver from a man who had a private reserve including some pieces from the “In God We Trust” mine. The silversmith will use the silver to craft, among other items, a chalice, plate and spoon — used in Eastern-rite liturgies. It will be mixed with silver from South America which Urban said is symbolic of the church’s unity.

“It has a lot of symbolism in mixing the different cultures together and different pieces of the Catholic Church together,” he said. “I think it provides an opportunity to show we all become one church together.”

U.S. teens to be confirmed by pope choose Sts. Francis, Ignatius as patrons

(CNS/Mike Crupi)

(CNS/Mike Crupi)

VATICAN CITY — The two teenagers from the United States who will be among 44 people confirmed by Pope Francis on Sunday chose very appropriate saints for their confirmation patrons, although at the time, they didn’t know just how fitting they would be.

In late February or early March — “about two weeks before the conclave began” and elected Pope Francis — Msgr. Ronald J. Rozniak was asked by the Archdiocese of Newark to choose two of the 226 members of his parish’s confirmation class to be confirmed by the pope. He put names of candidates from Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Ridgewood, N.J., into a hardhat and drew the names of Brigid Miniter, 14, and Anthony Merejo, 17.

(CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

(CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Members of the confirmation class, including the chosen two, had already picked the saints they wanted as their confirmation patrons, he said in a telephone interview a few minutes ago.

Well before the world’s cardinals chose a Jesuit to be pope and that Jesuit chose Francis as his name, Msgr. Rozniak drew the name of Miniter — who had chosen “Francis with an ‘i’ for Francis of Assisi” for her saint — and Merejo — who had chosen Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits.

“If that’s not providential, I don’t know what is,” he said.

Web tool lets users see if ancestors could immigrate to U.S. today

(CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

(CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Advocates for comprehensive immigration reform have long noted that immigrating to the United States today involves an entirely different legal system than that under which most people arrived here for nearly 200 years.

Now, there’s an online tool to help explain that.

Bend the Arc, a Jewish organization focusing on equality and justice, has a simple web page through which you can plug in the circumstances of your ancestor’s arrival in the United States and figure out, very generally, if she would be admitted under current laws.

Entry Denied guides users through some simple questions: in what time period did your ancestor enter? From what region? What skills and connections did he/she have in the U.S.?

It informed me that my grandfather who arrived in the 1910s from Eastern Europe, without higher education, with no family here and with limited finances would today find no direct path to immigrating to the U.S. He’d likely only be admitted through the diversity lottery.

Up to 55,000 visas a year are granted under that system, which is open only to people from certain countries with low rates of recent immigration, (among those excluded in 2014 are Brazil, Bangladesh, Canada, China, El Salvador and Haiti, for example).

In 2012, 14.8 million people applied, representing,  with their families, 19.7  million people taking a chance at getting a visa to move to the United States. Impoverished, war-tattered Sudan accounted for 66,000 entries. Bangladesh had 7.7 million entries. Even financially strong Germany had 58,000 entries for the lottery.

If my grandfather had been lucky enough to draw one of the visas, he’d then have had to show he met the employment criteria. I don’t know what skills he had when he arrived here, but he first worked in tobacco fields on the East Coast and then settled in Connecticut, working as a garbage man and snowplow operator.  None of those jobs would have qualified him to use the lottery visa.

Notes on peace and justice

During a prayer walk sponsored by Christian Churches Together at Kelly Ingram Park in Birmigham, Ala., April 15, members holds hands in prayer at the "Kneeling Ministers" sculpture. The statue depicts the Revs. John Thomas Porter, Nelson H. Smith and A. D. King kneeling in prayer after being confronted by Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor during an April 7, 1963 protest. Christian Churches Together sponsored a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." (CNS/Mary D. Dillard, One Voice)

People pray during walk sponsored by Christian Churches Together in Birmigham, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” (CNS/Mary D. Dillard, One Voice)

Religious leaders publish response to ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’

The response of U.S. Christian clergy leaders to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is available in booklet form.

Available from Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., which represents 36 national communions including the Catholic Church, was drafted to mark the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s letter written while he was held in solitary confinement in Birmingham, Ala., at the height of the civil rights movement..

The booklet can be viewed and downloaded here.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, participated in two days of events commemorating the anniversary April 14-15 in Birmingham.

The booklet calls upon people of faith to address the causes of injustice rather than simply respond to its symptoms. The clergy said the struggle today is more than political and economic, but personal as well.

“Dr. King reminds us that though we may pursue the illusion of moderation, in reality we cannot avoid taking a stand,” the response from clergy reads in part. “Mere ‘lukewarm acceptance’ of the concerns of African-Americans and other disadvantage groups, which tacitly communicates that we have already made sufficient progress, presents a stumbling block to authentic change.”

The response includes several steps that can be taken to confront injustice in society.

It’s a good read, something worth reflecting upon for those called to follow the example of the living Jesus in today’s world.

New York drone protesters found guilty of trespass

Five people who last fall blocked an entrance to the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, N.Y., in a protest against U.S. military drone policy were found guilty of trespass April 18.

DeWitt Town Court Judge Robert Jokl determined the five were guilty in an evening trial after they admitted to refusing a police order to leave a roadway into the base during the Oct. 5 peaceful demonstration.

Defendant Jim Clune, a Catholic Worker and member of St. James Church in Johnson City, N.Y., said Jokl allowed each person to speak about their reason for participating in the demonstration, which called attention to American drone policy and indiscriminate targeting of subjects in places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Hancock is one of several U.S. bases where drone operators pilot unmanned aircraft in their search for suspected Muslim militants halfway around the world.

“The killing of the innocent must never be business as usual, the normal course of events,” Clune told the court, “but should be seen as what it is. A catastrophe. An outrage. An attack on the very order of all that is good and holy.”

“So we have a choice. Given that law can be either among the greatest of human achievements or the falsification of morality we must say yes or no. Choose life or choose death.”

Clune told Catholic News Service this morning that he has been at Hancock before and will return again. He said his action stems from his faith.

He expects to be sentenced to a short jail term April 25, but said that the price of losing his freedom for a few days is small compared to the price people living under drone flyovers face daily.

Also convicted were Brian Hynes of New York, Ed Kinane and Julienne Oldfield, both of Syracuse, and Mark Scibilia-Carver of Trumansburg, N.Y. Martha Hennessey of Vermont, whose grandmother is Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, was found not guilty in absentia. She is traveling in Jordan.

Ignatian Solidarity Network honors Sister Helen Prejean

The Cleveland-based Ignatian Solidarity Network will honor Sister Helen Prejean with its Robert M. Holstein Faith That Does Justice Award.

Executive Director Chris Kerr said Sister Helen, a Sister of St. Joseph, is being honored for her work on ending capital punishment and ministry to inmates on death row.

Sister Helen will receive the award May 7 during a reception in New Orleans, her home.

The award is named for Jesuit Father Robert Holstein, who died in 2003. A labor lawyer and long-time social justice advocate, he was a member of the order’s California Province. He was a founder of the network’s annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

The network promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and others from Jesuit schools, parishes and ministries through education and by encouraging a lifelong commitment to serving the Catholic faith and promoting justice.

Text of statement on reform of Vatican bureaucracy

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Secretariat of State announced April 13 that Pope Francis has named a committee of eight cardinals to assist him in reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, something that was recommended during the cardinals’ meetings that preceded the papal election last month.

The list of eight names is notable for the high representation of the Americas (three members, including Boston’s Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley) and English-speaking countries (also three, counting India). The role of coordinator has been given to Cardinal Oscar A. Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras.

Five continents are represented. Only two members come from Europe, the church’s traditional heartland, and only one shares the Italian nationality of the majority of Vatican officials.

The Vatican statement follows.


Vatican City, 13 April 2013 (VIS) – Following is the full text of a communique issued today by the Secretariat of State.

“The Holy Father Francis, taking up a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregations preceding the Conclave, has established a group of cardinals to advise him in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, ‘Pastor Bonus’.

The group consists of:

Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State;

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile;

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India;

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany;

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo;

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M., archbishop of Boston, USA;

Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia;

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; and

Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary.

The group’s first meeting has been scheduled for 1-3 October 2013. His Holiness is, however, currently in contact with the aforementioned cardinals.”

CNS dispatch from 1951: Fighting men on Korean front describe heroism of missing Catholic chaplain

Father Kapaun in an undated photo. (CNS photo/courtesy The Catholic Advance)

Father Kapaun in an undated photo. (CNS photo/courtesy The Catholic Advance)

This afternoon’s White House Medal of Honor ceremony recognizing the heroic efforts of Army chaplain Father Emil Kapaun on the battlefield during the Korean War prompted us to look in our archives and find original news reports on the famed Wichita diocesan priest and candidate for sainthood.

Here is a story from March 1951, when Father Patrick O’Connor, a correspondent for CNS’ predecessor, the N.C.W.C. News Service, interviewed soldiers who knew Father Kapaun and last saw him ministering to soldiers before he was taken prisoner. The record shows that the 35-year-old chaplain had the chance to fall back to safety during a battle between U.S.and Chinese forces but instead chose to stay and was captured along with dozens of men.

NCWC NEWS SERVICE (Foreign) 3/5/51




By Rev. Patrick O’Connor, Society of St. Columban  (Correspondent, N.C.W.C. NEWS SERVICE)

WITH THE U.S. FORCES IN KOREA, March 3. — On the frozen hillsides of Korea, men of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment often talk about Father Kapaun. They saw him last on that fiery midnight when the Eighth suffered its heaviest losses of the war. That was up near Unsan, where on November 2 the Chinese Communists first attacked American troops.

When the regiment regrouped after withdrawal, Father Kapaun was missing. Later on, the first American soldiers released by the Chinese reported that Father Kapaun was a prisoner in a camp on the Korean side of the Manchurian border. He was helping to take care of his wounded fellow-prisoners and was saying Mass.

A CNS dispatch on Father Kapaun from 1951. (CNS photo)

An original CNS dispatch on Father Kapaun from 1951. (CNS photo)

The Rev. (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, 34, from Wichita, Kan., was the Catholic chaplain with the 8th cavalry. He came to Korea with the regiment last July and served all the way from Taegu up to the 38th parallel and far beyond it, until he was captured that November night on the North-West front.

Piecing together the accounts of that night, told by survivors, I found a clear picture of heroism. Father Kapaun’s successor, the Rev. (Capt.) Robert Lynch of New York, brought me over the icy roads and fields to meet the men who could tell the story.

The Chinese attacked the First and Second Battalions early that afternoon. Father Kapaun was with the Third Battalion.

“Father and I had our pup-tent in a cornfield near the 3rd battalion aid station and CP (command post),” said Pfc. Patrick J. Schuler of Cincinnati. Pat was Father Kapaun’s assistant and driver. “Father had said four Masses on All saints’ Day. we went to bed early but got up on the alert to move out, about eleven that night. We loaded the jeep and trai1er and moved forward to join up with the First and Second battalions. They were trying to get out by turning on to another road. The road behind us wasn’t safe.

“But we ran into a communist roadblock up ahead and had to turn the vehicles around. Father and I picked up a lot of wounded, put them on the jeep and trailer and came back to the 3rd battalion CP. The medics took care of the wounded on the road. “Stay with the jeep and say your prayers,’ Father Kapaun told me. ‘I’ll be back.’

“A few minutes later the Chinese attacked us right there. I set fire to the jeep and ran looking for Father. I shouted his name but could not find him. Then I went back across the river with two others. I figured that Father would leave, too.”

Major Veale Moriarty of Jacksonville, Fla., who was in the CP, could tell where Father Kapaun went.

“I saw him with Dr. Anderson working on a wounded man in our aid station, which was also the third battalion CP, about 2 a.m.,” he said. “The doctor brought the man in because we had light in the CP. The attack was breaking on us then. I believe they were both getting ready to leave later on, as planned, but they heard of someone being injured and they went back.” Dr. (Capt.) Clarence L. Anderson is from Long Beach, Calif.

Sgt. Alfred Jos. Patrnode of the St. Charles Parish in Providence, R.I., confirmed that. “I had seen Father Kapaun on the early afternoon of November 1,” he related. “He was preparing to say Mass for the boys around the third battalion CP. That night I ran into him again near the CP. we knew the Chinese were coming at us. Then suddenly everything opened up. we went back about 500 yards and crossed the river. Father Kapaun and Dr. Anderson came across, too, but when somebody said he’d seen one of his buddies getting hit, Father Kapaun said he was going back in. Dr. Anderson went with him. That was after 3 o’clock in the morning.”

“Father Kapaun had several chances to get out but he wouldn’t take them,” declared W/O John H. Funston of the St. Thomas Parish in Brooklyn. “He could have left with the regimental CP earlier that night. Later, when he did get out, he went back. And he stayed in the end, when the last uninjured men were leaving the perimeter.”

Back in the combat area, before dawn on November 3, L Company had formed a perimeter or small defense zone. Inside this, they dug holes where they sheltered the wounded.

“I was with K Company on the hill,” said Pfc. Clarence Matlock of Philipsburg, N.J. “The Chinese hit us about three in the morning of November 2. We got our men off the hill and when I reached the perimeter down below, I saw Father Kapaun there. I left on the night of the third.”

“I saw Father the evening of the third,” said Sgt. James R. Petergall of Pittsburgh, Pa. “The perimeter was about 50 yards wide, in an open field. He was in the center, going from hole to hole, taking care of the wounded. He was under small arms fire and heavy mortar fire all the time.”

“Next day we had orders to withdraw. Any wounded who thought they could make it, could leave with us. I was told that Father Kapaun and Dr. Anderson were going to stay behind with the other wounded. When we left, the area was under artillery fire. The Reds were·dropping white phosphorus on us. That’s the last I saw of Father Kapaun.”

“I can’t imagine him leaving when there were wounded men there,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Donald F. Carter, of the Church of the Brethren, from Long Beach, Calif., a Protestant chaplain with the Eighth Cavalry and a good friend of Father Kapaun.

“You couldn’t say anything about Father Kapaun that wasn’t good,” said Major Moriarty. “Lots of people in this regiment could tell you stories about him.

“Once, in the Taegu area, I saw him going around on a push bicycle. He had lost his jeep and for six weeks he rode that Korean bicycle to visit the battalions and companies.”

“When we were fighting on the 38th parallel,” continued the Major, “a jeep ambulance had loaded two wounded men when the driver was killed at the wheel. Father Kapaun went up, dragged the dead man to one side and drove the wounded back, under mortar and machine-gun fire.”

Some say that Father Kapaun once had his pipe shot out of his mouth.

“Going north, our convey ran into resistance about eight, one morning,” said Private Pat Schuler. “Father Kapaun left the jeep and when he hadn’t returned six hours later, I drove up front to look for him.  There he was, quite calm, under machine-gun fire.

“‘I broke my pipe,’ was all he said. ‘A sniper opened up on me and I had to crawl to reach a wounded man. … I broke my pipe.’”

“He’d sit there, just as calm,” said Schuler. “I’m for him.”

—3-em dash—

      It had been previously reported that Father Kapaun was awarded the Bronze Star in September for carrying a wounded soldier to safety under intense machine-gun fire when no litters were available. He was reported missing in Korea since November 2.