Fifty years ago a mad March Miracle for college hoops


The 1963 Ramblers of Loyola University Chicago. The Ramblers will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November. (Photo from Loyola University Chicago)

Last week and this mark two of America’s great national obsessions: baseball’s Opening Day and college basketball’s Final Four. Seasons in North America — and just about everywhere — are marked as much by the hallmarks of sports as by the first days of weather seasons and religious holidays. Most people know that Christmas is on Dec. 25, and most Christians know Easter follows Lent, but they would be hard pressed to tell you when exactly it falls. But the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and the Masters — those are another story. The rise and fall of civilizations would have to be scheduled around these.

Such is the power of competition and sports. Sports can get a black eye across the board — we spend too much time, too much money and too much capital of youth on our international obsession. We sure do. But sports is also a bellwether of social change or, even more importantly, an agent.

Such was the case with the remarkable 1963 basketball team the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers. In November, the Ramblers will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In the 1963 NCAA tournament, the Ramblers  faced off against the Maroons (as they were then known) from Mississippi State University. No one would blink today, but then the Ramblers had four African-American starters. Members of the Maroons were all Caucasian and were barred from playing integrated teams. It was a historic meeting.

Reporter Steve Christian talks in Inside Loyola about what has become known as the “Game of Change.” How did the game turn out? Check out the story. It was a remarkable example of sportsmanship on both sides, and a handshake that perhaps changed college basketball for good.

This month also marks the anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” (CNS will have a couple of stories about this great moment in history later this week.) It’s good to remember that there were giants of the civil rights era, and sometimes, there were a few college kids from Illinois and Mississippi who changed the world.

Pope Francis: Back to the crosier with crucifix

ROME — At last evening’s Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis carried a crosier that most people associate with Blessed John Paul II.

Pope Francis carries the Scorzelli crozier at Mass last evening. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis carries the Scorzelli crosier at Mass last evening. (CNS/Paul Haring)

As a matter of fact, though, Pope Paul VI commissioned the work from Italian sculptor Lello Scorzelli in 1963, and used it for the first time Dec. 8, 1965, at the official closing of the Second Vatican Council. Formally known as a “ferula” in Italian, the pastoral staff was unusual not only because it was rough-hewn and silvery, but because the cross included a corpus. Popes John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI later used it.

In 1990, Scorzelli made Blessed John Paul a second cross, similar in design, but lighter. The office of the papal master of ceremonies said the crosier used by Pope Francis last night was the original made for Pope Paul.

Almost exactly five years ago — Palm Sunday 2008 — Pope Benedict began using a pastoral staff topped with a cross, not a crucifix. The golden crosier had been a gift to Blessed Pius IX in 1877 to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop. In November 2009, Pope Benedict was given a new crosier, based on the same design, which he used at liturgies until his retirement.

Rosary from Pope Benedict.

Rosary from Pope Benedict.

However, Pope Benedict continued to use Scorzelli’s design for the crucifix on the rosaries he handed out as gifts.

Notes on peace and justice

Franziska Jagerstatter dies at 100

Franziska Jagerstatter at her husband's beatification in 2007. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Franziska Jagerstatter at her husband’s beatification in 2007. (CNS photo/Reuters)

The April issue of the Pax Christi International newsletter reported on the recent death of Franziska Jagerstatter, widow of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian conscientious objector who was executed by the Nazi regime in 1943.

She died peacefully surrounded by family and friends in St. Radegund, Austria, two weeks after her 100th birthday.

On March 4, her birthday, Msgr. Ludwig Schwarz, president of Pax Christi Austria, celebrated a Mass in St. Radegund in her honor. The previous day a Mass also was celebrated in her honor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Linz, Austria.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna and Austrian President Heinz Fischer also sent birthday greetings.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter was executed Aug. 9, 1943, for his refusal to serve a second tour of duty in the Nazi army. His stance was unsupported by his parish priest, diocesan bishop and Catholic friends. He was beatified Oct 26, 2007, in Linz. May 21 is his feast day.

Bishop Taban honored for promoting peace

Pax Christi International also reports that Bishop Paride Taban, retired bishop of Torit, South Sudan, received the Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his work in creating the Holy Trinity Peace Village for orphaned children in Kuron, South Sudan.

The award was presented March 1 in Geneva during the annual lecture sponsored by the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation. The foundation was established to carry out the peacebuilding work of de Mello, one of 22 United Nations workers killed during the 2003 bombing of the U.N. compound in Baghdad.

Bishop Taban is a member of Pax Christi International’s advisory board and the village is a member organization of the worldwide Catholic peace group.

50th anniversary of “Pacem in Terris” marked in D.C.

Pope John XXIII’s encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”) will be the subject of a two-day conference hosted by The Catholic University of America April 9-10.

Leaders of the Catholic peace movement will be on hand to discuss the 1963 encyclical and what it means for the world in contemporary times.

Plenary speakers include Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom; Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Father J. Bryan Hehir, professor in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Pope John wrote the document as Catholic Church leaders met in the midst of the Second Vatican Council. In the encyclical he emphasized the rights of people to live peacefully without fear of war or violence and that all people must be assured of having access to basic needs such as housing, food and health care. He also challenged the world’s nation to end their dependence on nuclear weapons as a deterrence to war and to work ensure the rights of all people.

Catholic News Service will report on the conference next week.

U.N. adopts arms trade treaty

The U.N. General Assembly has adopted the Arms Trade Treaty, regulating the trade of arms between countries.

The April 2 vote found 154 nations in favor of the treaty and three against it with 23 countries abstaining. Only Iran, North Korea and Syria voted against the pact.

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns was among several Catholic organizations backing the treaty.

The United States, as the world’s largest arms dealer, pushed for the treaty’s passage and co-sponsored it despite pressure from pro-gun ownership groups to scuttle it. The groups maintained that the treaty could be invoked to control arms sales within the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that would not be the case, explaining that it covered only international deals.

The legal arms trade accounts for about $70 billion in sales annually. The treaty covers attack helicopters, tanks and other larger arms as well as small arms and ammunition for such weapons.

Under the agreement, nations are required to determine whether an arms shipment to another country would be used to commit atrocities or violate human rights or if they could be diverted for such purposes and report back to the U.N. on their efforts.

Seven historic weeks, told in five and a half minutes

From Pope Benedict’s announcement that he would resign, to Pope Francis’ celebration of Easter Mass: images of one of the most extraordinary papal transitions in history — narrated by participants and first-hand observers.

“Like a little kiss from God”

Pope Francis gives Dominic Gondreau an Easter kiss. (Screen shot from

Pope Francis gives Dominic Gondreau an Easter kiss. (Screen shot from

VATICAN CITY — Whenever he’s in a crowd, Pope Francis kisses lots of children. The father of one special boy, who got a special kiss and embrace on Easter, has written a blog about the embrace and its meaning.

The boy, Dominic Gondreau, has cerebal palsy. He is spending several months in Rome with his parents and four siblings while his father, a professor of theology at Dominican-run Providence College in Providence, R.I., serves as faculty resident director for students studying in Rome.

The dad, Paul Gondreau, said his son “has already shared in Christ’s cross more than I have throughout my entire life multiplied a thousand times over.”

And while Dominic’s parents help him walk, stretch his muscles, wheel him around and care for him in every way, dad says, “He shows me how to love.”

“We were all moved to tears” by the pope’s embrace of Dominic, he said.

In an interview with CNN, Dominic’s mother, Christiana, described the moment as being “like a little kiss from God.”

Our friends at Salt and Light Television, the Catholic channel in Canada, have included the moment in their video, about 10 minutes and 30 seconds into the piece.