So far no Super Bowl bishops’ bets, but pre-game Mass is on

In previous years, archbishops from the cities of the rival Super Bowl teams have made friendly wagers on the game’s outcome — usually involving food, drink, hats and donations to the Catholic Charities’ agency in the winning team’s diocese.

In 2011 we noted here that Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh and Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., promised to make personal donations to the winning team’s local Catholic Charities agency and also donate regional food to a food pantry in the winning team’s city. With the Green Bay Packers victory that year, Bishop Zubik was obliged to supply a food pantry with Pittsburgh traditions of  pierogies and kielbasa.

This year no such bet is on between Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain when the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks vie for the Super Bowl Trophy at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Feb. 2.

A Denver Bronco helps a boy find a coat during a service event  Jan. 28 with Knights of Columbus in jersey City, N.J. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A Denver Bronco helps a boy find a coat during a Jan. 28 service event with Knights of Columbus in Jersey City, N.J. (CNS photo/Reuters)

But that’s not to say they won’t be paying attention to Super Bowl XLVIII.  As for Archbishop Aquila, he was invited to the game by Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and his wife, Linda. The night before the big game, the archbishop will celebrate Mass for some of the Broncos players and coaches at the hotel where the team is staying in Jersey City, N.J.

In statements released by the communications office of the Denver Archdiocese, the archbishop said the following:

–“Jack and Linda Del Rio invited me to attend the game with their family and to say Mass for the team. The Broncos have a chaplain, Father Steele, who often celebrates Mass for the Broncos. I have been edified by the example of many NFL athletes and coaches and their families who make the effort throughout the football season to attend Sunday Mass.

— “I enjoy sports and I’m a long-time Broncos fan from when I went to school at CU Boulder. Even when I was bishop of Fargo (N.D.), I followed and rooted for the Broncos.

— “I am sure many people are wondering what I will say to the Broncos in my homily, but all I can say is that the Holy Spirit will guide me as he wishes. What I do know, is that during the game I will be cheering for a Broncos victory!”

The mayors of the rival cities wagered volunteer service. In a mid-day news release Jan. 31, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. They agreed that the winning mayor would host the mayor from the opposing team for a day of volunteers service with AmeriCorps members. “Our teams have shown that Seattle and Denver are national leaders in football. Wit this bet and in partnership with AmeriCorps, Mayor Hancock and I wanted to showcase our cities’ leadership in service to our communities as well,” said Murray.

Pete Seeger’s park-bench chat with NC News

The Jan. 27 death of Pete Seeger, the 94-year-old folk singer/songwriter icon and longtime champion for social change, may have stirred many people to hum a few bars of his well-known tunes such as: “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” or “We Shall Overcome.”

Folk singer Pete Seeger performs  in 1985 at a Catholic Campaign for Human Development conference in Minnesota. (CNS file photo/ Sister Nancy Bauer, OSB)

Folk singer Pete Seeger performs in 1985 at a Catholic Campaign for Human Development conference in Minnesota. (CNS file photo/Sister Nancy Bauer, OSB)

Here at CNS it got us looking through our archives, which contained this 1970 interview (below) with Seeger who spoke to reporter John Sullivan — back when CNS was called NC News — on a park bench on the National Mall in Washington. The story was part of a series titled “Dateline: U.S.A.” the news service was doing in those years. Seeger wasn’t a Catholic but he was in town as part of the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, which then and now offers a look at the many ethnicities, folkways and cultures that make up U.S. society. In his story, though, Sullivan highlights how Seeger had recently calmed another singer — who was attacking Catholic legislators — by singing a New England Irish Catholic protest song: “No Irish Need Apply.”

(Editors: This is the second article in NC’s continuing series: DATELINE U.S.A)

PETE SEEGER –‘Boxes’ don’t help people


By John R. Sullivan

(NC News Service)

WASHINGTON (NC) — He lives in a log cabin his family and friends helped build.

He wears jeans, old shirts, old sweaters, work shoes and drives an old station wagon. His traveling entourage usually consists of his wife, Toshi, and his younger daughter, Tinya

When strangers recognize him, he smiles awkwardly, mumbles his thanks and, as if wondering what to say next, ambles away.

He doesn’t have a press agent.

And that, believe it or not, is Pete Seeger, the man who, at 51, is helping young America rediscover — for at least the third time — the country’s folk music tradition.

It’s an unlikely portrait of a man whose 25-year career includes thousands of concerts, the formation of an immensely popular singing group (The Weavers), sales of several million recordings, the recording of probably 100 albums.

But then, Seeger is a man of many apparent contradictions: his father, Dr. Charles Louis Seeger, is a musicologist, conductor and educator at UCLA: Pete. a Harvard drop-out, is a banjo-picker. He volunteered for the Army in World War II, entertained troops and campaigned with the rest of America against the Hun; now he is firmly anti-war.

He was born of a sophisticated family in New York City, lived in Washington and has traveled throughout the world: now he prefers the woods near his home outside Beacon, N.Y.

Not long ago, Seeger sat on a bench in Washington’s Mall and talked about some of these things — a little bit about himself, but mostly about the world around him.

Obviously, he’s not an easy man to typecast, and Seeger is the first to admit it: “I try not to get myself put in a box and I try not to put other people in boxes.  . . . There’s a tendency to give a dog a bad name and kill it.”

On a recent television show with Canadian singer Oscar Brand, Brand opened a heated attack on Catholic legislators who vote against abortion and for parochial school aid. Seeger quickly calmed him down. “Before we start looking anti-Catholic,” he said, “let me sing a song.” It was a New England Irish Catholic protest song, “No Irish Need Apply.”

Stories of Seeger’s calming interventions abound, but he sees himself as one who stirs up people.

“I don’t want to find myself being used by people just to calm things down because, frankly, I’m glad to see people getting stirred up.

“You know the old saying: the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. And the world is full of good people who are not stirring up enough trouble.”

“Of course,” he added, “what kind of ruckus it is, is a different matter, and I don’t think it’s going to be· easy for any person — it’s certainly not easy for me — to decide exactly what kind of a ruckus, or where or when. You have to kind of argue out each particular situation on its own merits.”

Seeger is fond of quoting Negro abolitionist Frederick Douglass: “He would see progress without struggle, would rather see Niagara without hearing the roar of the waters.”

And he is not optimistic about progress coming calmly to the United States. “There’s going to be real hard times ahead, and there’s no getting around it.

“A lot of good people are going to get killed — it’s very probable. All we can do — you and I — is to try and lessen the hardship and lessen the violence. And keep plugging, saying ‘watch out.’”

Seeger’s own ruckus-making these days is focused on the commercial television industry -– the same one that banned him from appearing from 1955 until last year. The ban followed his conviction — later thrown out — for refusing to answer questions of the House Un-American Activities Committee during its unproductive probe of “subversives” in the entertainment industry.

But Seeger’s ruckus has nothing to do with the ban.

“I’m not mad about that at all,” he said. “But I do walk around in a rage that television — the closest thing to face-to-face contact there is — is not available to all the people.”

Libraries, he argues, collect and distribute all kinds of ideas.

“It would be harder, but I think television could do the same thing,” he suggested. “Right now a plurality — not even a majority -­ rules what goes on the air. A minority — even a large one — has very little say in it.

“The air belongs to the people,” he says, “so they ought to be able to share it.”

It is a concept that fits Seeger’s activist inclinations.

“This is one world and there is going be no world if we don’t learn to share again. I know love is a fine word — it’s my favorite four-letter word — but I have an even more favorite word, and that is ‘share.’

“A man says he loves his wife but he keeps her in the kitchen and makes her do all the dirty work. A man says he loves his children, but he doesn’t give them any say in what they want to do; he tells them what to do.

“Needless to say, you help guide people, but there’s a difference. You’ve  got to get to sharing. It’s a lot more concrete thing.”

In 2008,  Seeger told, an independent online resource on faith and spirituality, that he used to say he was an atheist but he no longer felt that way.

“Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God. According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes I’m looking at God. Whenever I’m listening to something I’m listening to God.”

He also noted that preachers had described him as spiritual to which he responded: “Maybe I am. I feel strongly that I’m trying to raise people’s spirits.”

Faster than a speeding bullet, ‘decorum police’ take ‘Super Pope’ down

VATICAN CITY — Like a comic book showdown, Rome’s “decorum squad” took down the city’s latest hero when they scraped off and painted over the “Super Pope” street art very early this morning.

before after

“Before” and “After” shots of a wall near the Vatican showing the quick removal by city workers of the “Super Pope” street art. (CNS photos/Robert Duncan and Carol Glatz)

It marked a new city record given the piece went up Monday night and most illegal urban “decorations” are ignored for years. Notice the illegal cafe’ sign that quickly filled the void…

The artist, Mauro Pallotta, said he saw the censure coming. He told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that “city decorum” officials had been circling “dangerously close” to his piece on Wednesday.

“But the people’s reaction stopped them. There was a small revolution. They left, but they’ll be back,” he said. And right he was.

Pallotta said he draws and paints his “ecological” and removable street art onto paper that he then glues with a water-based adhesive to walls around his historic neighborhood of “the Borgo” — a series of small streets and low buildings near the Vatican.

While city painters scraped off his papered depiction of “Super Pope” and rolled on a fresh coat of paint, they didn’t bother with the street tagging on the rest of the wall or the graffiti plastered throughout the area.

graffitti lives

One of countless patches of graffiti which miraculously survived an early morning blitz by city workers who removed the “Super Pope” pop art. The stenciled slogan (by the same artist) near a restaurant says: “Full tummies don’t think about empty stomachs.” (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

Pallotta said he got the idea to draw the pope as superman when he was leafing through a superhero comic book while watching TV. A news story came on about Pope Francis and “It blew my mind like a short circuit: ‘Hey, the pope IS a superhero!'”

“The superpowers which I gave him represent the enormous power at his disposal, which he uses — the only world leader — to do good. He’s the only one who does what he says.”

Pope passes news photographers as he arrives to lead general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis passes news photographers as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

However, Pope Francis would disagree with being equated with a superhero.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio  told the story of the dangers of trying to play “Tarzan” and boastfully thinking one person alone can save the world.

He says in the book, “Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words,” that when he was vicar general of the archdiocese, he brushed off a visitor looking to confess because he had a busy day ahead of him and needed to catch a train.

“I had an attitude of superiority, put another way, I was sinning…I was saying to myself, ‘Look how good I am, how great I am, how many things I can do.’ Pride affected my attitude,” the future pope said.

He said he since learned to “travel in patience” and realized that of all the things that need doing at work and in the world, it’s God who will always “sort out the story!”

“So often in life we ought to slow down and not try to fix everything at once! To travel in patience means: giving up the presumption of wanting to solve everything. You have to make an effort, but understand that one person cannot do everything.”

As he’s said elsewhere, you don’t need to be a superhero to be a saint; you just need to stick close to God.

You definitely got mail! What’s inside the papal postbox?

UPDATE: For folks who wish to stuff those mail bags even more, here are the popes’ addresses. There is NO email because the last time they set one up for the pope, the servers crashed.

Pope Francis
Domus Sanctae Marthae
00120 Vatican City State


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Mater Ecclesiae monastery
00120 Vatican City State

Pope accepts letter as he arrives to lead general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis accepts a letter from a pilgrim in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 16, 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis gets so much mail — about 30 large mail sacks a week — that the Vatican has set up a special office to sort through and read the overflowing stacks.

Msgr. Giuliano Gallorini of the Vatican secretariat of state is in charge of the “Papal Correspondence Office” and is assisted by a nun and two laywomen.

The sacks are brought from the Vatican post office to the “Terza Loggia” in the apostolic palace where the Vatican diplomats work. There, the papal mail team sifts through everything, sorting the letters into low-tech cardboard boxes whose tops have been torn off and labeled “Portuguese,” “Spanish,” “French” and other languages.

papal mail room

Screen grab from CTV video showing makeshift mail room for papal correspondence.

This video by the Vatican Television Center gives an insider’s look at the makeshift mail room, whose floor, understandably, is absolutely cluttered with boxes chock full of the sorted post.

The video, in Italian, talks about the kind of mail the pope gets. Sometimes there are gifts like a handmade scarf, statuettes, drawings, but Msgr. Gallorini said most of the letters are requests for prayers and support.

“It may be the period we are living in, but many deal with people’s difficulties, especially illness. They ask for prayers for children and they detail difficult economic situations,” he said.


Screen grab from CTV video showing Msgr. Gallorini, head of the papal correspondence office, going through the mail.

The correspondence team reads all the Italian mail and tries to send the letters on to the right people who can offer help. For example, requests for economic assistance are sent to the appropriate diocesan Caritas office, the monsignor said.

He said they try to do what Pope Francis would want: to listen to people with their hearts and minds, to share in their suffering and to try to find the right words in their replies (they send a reply to everyone!!)

What mail does make it onto the pope’s desk?

Msgr. Gallorini said, “Cases that are more delicate” or sensitive. Those items are sent on to the pope’s secretaries who make sure the pope can look at them himself and decide how they should be handled.

Pope Francis “always says that the pastor has to live with his flock, with his sheep, to feel and live their experiences with them,” the monsignor said. However, because it would be impossible for the pope to read every letter he gets, the pope asks his correspondence crew to approach their work with the same sense of solidarity and affection he would have.

Have any of you written to the pope? Did you get a reply?

A special engagement at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — Are you engaged to be married? Have nothing special planned for Valentine’s Day? Want to come to Rome?


You have just two days left to register for a special audience with Pope Francis here at the Vatican. The deadline is Jan. 30th.

You must be taking or have finished taking marriage preparation courses and you need to apply for the audience through your diocesan office of the family or by writing to by this Thursday.

Also, go here for more details and some valuable relationship advice from Pope Francis!

Feathery fiascos: the unfortunate prey for peace

A dove released during an Angelus prayer conducted by Pope Francis, is attacked by a seagull at the Vatican

A dove released during the Sunday Angelus is attacked by a seagull over St. Peter’s Square Jan. 26. (CNS photo/via Reuters – Alessandro Bianchi)

VATICAN CITY — Photographers in St. Peter’s Square yesterday caught the sad scene of a freshly released dove being attacked by a crow and seagull.

The annual dove launch by the pope and two children is meant to highlight the church’s call for peace in the world.

But, unfortunately, the forces of nature (namely hungry predator birds circling the square) usually prevail every year and the symbol of peace becomes prey.

I did a story several years ago that looked at the problem and an easy solution that would not appall bird lovers and would keep the children’s month of peace tradition flying.

Perhaps the advice and the story originally published Feb. 13, 2004, are worth repeating?

Wing and a prayer: Vatican doves sometimes turn chicken

By Carol Glatz 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The noble white dove has come to symbolize peace, fidelity, fraternity and hope, but the Vatican seems to have seen more than its fair share of doves suffering from a fear of flying.

Some might even say those doves are really just chicken.

What’s meant to be an impressive launch from the fifth-story window of the pope’s studio instead turns into a feathery fiasco. In 1998 both doves recoiled from their release and turned tail back inside the apostolic palace. Delighted, Pope John Paul II said, “It is clear this is a house of peace, because the doves don’t want to leave.”

This scene of one or both doves diving for papal cover has been repeated over the years. Most recently, on Jan. 25, call it stage-fright, call it premonition: One dove refused to leave the pope’s windowsill while the more gutsy of the two flew off to a grisly fate. One Italian newspaper reported the bird of peace was later found injured from a seagull attack.

The dove-launch over St. Peter’s Square occurs the last Sunday of every January after the pope’s Angelus.

The annual avian event started 25 years ago, said Father Antonio Magnotta, assistant to the Rome branch of Italy’s Catholic Action youth group. He said the group asked the Vatican if the kids could help celebrate what’s considered the month of peace with their bishop, Pope John Paul.

Each year, two children join the pope at the end of his noonday prayer, read a message of peace and help launch two white doves.

If only symbolism could be so simple.

“The problem is they toss the doves out with too much force; the bird doesn’t know where it’s going, so it boomerangs back to get its proper bearings,” said Bernard de Cottignies, veteran Vatican Radio journalist and messenger-dove fancier with several champion birds under his cote.

“To get a good takeoff they should slowly open their hands, let the bird get its sense of direction, and then it will go when it’s ready,” he said.

Launching techniques aside, how much is known about where the doves go at the end of the show?

“They head to the Vatican gardens, I think,” Father Magnotta said.

But officials at the Vatican’s immaculately pruned gardens told CNS that there are no white doves there.

“We have lots of grey pigeons, but white doves? I never saw them here,” said the head of the gardens, Elio Cortellessa.

De Cottignies said the white doves end up homeless and starving.

“White doves are usually bred for meat and lack the homing instinct of messenger-doves” — which are also known as “racing pigeons,” he said.

Another problem with farm-raised fowl, he said, is that the white dove cannot fend for itself in the city.

But luckily for the doves, there was a Good Samaritan looking out for them for a while.

“For five years I picked up the stray doves, half-starved and lost in St. Peter’s Square on my way home from work to take them to a friend’s house in the country,” confessed de Cottignies.

Although the release of doves onto St. Peter’s Square is wholly organized by Italian Catholic Action, once upon a time the Vatican used doves in its beatification and canonization ceremonies.

According to a Franciscan Web site, the Mass’s offertory after the act of canonization was made up of “wax candles, bread, wine, water, two turtle doves, two pigeons and a number of smaller birds” in gilded cages.

These offerings were presented to the pope and were meant to “lift up our hearts and minds to the love and contemplation of the supernatural,” the Web site explained.

“I remember in 1976 when the Scottish Jesuit martyr (John Ogilvie) was canonized, the Jesuits turned up with wine and a dove,” said Msgr. Charles Burns, a church historian who spent more than 25 years as an official of the Vatican Archives.

But Archbishop Piero Marini, the pope’s master of liturgical ceremonies, said that after the Second Vatican Council, the use of doves and other symbols in liturgical ceremonies was phased out in favor of simpler gifts.

“But the present-day tradition of the children coming to the pope’s window to release the doves is very nice,” Msgr. Burns said. “It’s a lot like Noah’s Ark,” the dove flying back from land, symbolizing hope and peace.

De Cottignies said there is a solution that would not appall bird lovers and would keep the children’s month of peace tradition flying.

“They could use white messenger-doves. They would have a much more stunning takeoff since the bird knows where home is and would head straight there with impressive speed,” he said.






Media hacks’ cheat sheet. What the pope wants you to know in bite-sized bits

VATICAN CITY — What’s the recipe for successful communication?

Pope Francis spelled it out in his first World Communications Day message released yesterday, and on other occasions as well.

For today’s feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of the Catholic press and journalists, here’s a sampling of some of his simple tips:

  • Without losing your bearings, expand your knowledge. Don’t barricade yourselves “behind sources of information, which only confirm (your) own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.”

A couple embrace during the World Meeting of Families in Milan June 2012. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

  • Don’t isolate yourselves from the people around you.
  • “We need to love and be loved” so help your digital connections “grow into true encounters.” Make it a network “not of wires but of people.”
  • Be deliberate, calm. Take the time to be silent and listen. Be patient with people “who are different” as you try to understand them.


    Parents listening to their teenage daughter during dinner. (CNS photo illustration/Sid Hastings) (2011)

  • Don’t just tolerate, be genuinely attentive and accept the other — it will help them to express themselves more fully.
  • “Learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience” seen in different cultures and traditions.
  • Use the Internet, this “gift from God,” to grow closer to others, inspire solidarity, improve human dignity.
  • Use the power of media and communication to turn us into neighbors.
  • Dangers to avoid: information overload and manipulative messages that might “condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbor.”
  • Don’t let media strategies strangle the need to “ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication.”

A visitor takes photos of ancient fragments of the New Testament at a Vatican exhibit in 2012. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

  • Impartiality in the media? The pope says it’s just a show. Strive instead to be a true point of reference for people, which means going out into the mix as you are with tenderness. “Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator.”
  • “Boldly become citizens of the digital world” without overlooking those who lack access and might be left behind.
  • Risk getting “bruised” by going out “to the streets” and digital highways where people are looking for healing, meaning and hope.
Priest runs in 100-meter relay race on main road leading to St. Peter's Square at Vatican

A priest runs a 100-meter relay race near St. Peter’s Square Oct. 20, 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

  • Keep all doors online open “so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter and so that the Gospel can go out to everyone.”
  • Don’t bombard people with religious messages. Be willing to be available, patiently and respectfully hearing people’s questions and doubts “as they advance in their search for the truth” and meaning in life.
  • Dialogue requires we “be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert.”
  • Learn to believe “that the ‘other’ has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective.” Don’t renounce your ideas and traditions, just recognize you’re not the only one who might be right.

Sr. Leo Therese, a member of the Missionaries of Charity, greets families at a refugee camp in Basagaon, India, in 2012. (CNS photo/Anto Akkara)

  • “Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts” without resorting to cheap tricks and “special effects.”
  • See the communication revolution underway as a “great and thrilling challenge” to be faced with “fresh energy and imagination.”
Pope Francis greets baby at Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome

Pope Francis greets a baby during a visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome Jan. 19, 2014. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

And don’t forget Pope Francis’ trademark tip for how best to communicate the Gospel. It’s some wisdom he got from his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi:

Do you know what Francis once said to his brothers? He said: “Always preach the Gospel and if necessary use words!” But how? Is it possible to preach the Gospel without words? Yes! By your witness! First comes witness, then come words!

Pope Francis to young people in Assisi Oct. 4, 2013