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We're all responsible for seminarians, African bishop says

Cape Coast, Ghana, Mar 23, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Priestly formation isn't a just a job for the rector – it's a responsibility shared between the entire Christian community and seminarians themselves, said a Ghanaian bishop.

“It is the duty and the primary responsibility of parents to form or educate seminarians, while the seminarian himself has the onerous responsibility to be involved and committed to his own formation if he wants to become truly what God the Father has willed,” Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra said.

The archbishop delivered the keynote address the week of March 12 at gathering themed “Sixty Years of Priestly Formation for the Church in Ghana and the Universal Church – A Shared Responsibility.” The address was a part of the activities at St. Peter's Catholic Seminary in the Cape Coast to mark the 60th anniversary of Ghana's independence as a nation.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle acknowledges that “the challenges are not to be underrated” but stressed it is the entire Christian community which must contribute. He said the challenges for a complete and concrete formation are to be kept in sight of “parents, guardians and society,” for the good of the “subject, the child or the student…and [the] Church as a whole.”

He said that education of the faith begins in the home with families and children, but then continues onto the state, the church, and religious leadership.

Pope Francis has also expressed similar sentiments in a 2015 homily. He said the family is the “center of pastoral work,” and a “handing on of the faith” begins in the home and church.

The Pope also said that a priest “always remains of the people and the culture that have produced him; our roots help us to remember who we are and to where Christ has called us. We priests do not fall from above but are instead called by God, who takes us ‘from among men,’ to ‘ordain us for men.’”

In his address last week, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said that the Holy Spirit is bestowed on everyone in the church, and it is therefore the responsibility of the entire church to nature vocations.

“As a shared responsibility, it begins with praying to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his vineyard. Then it follows with calling people and nurturing them to follow Christ in the priesthood and religious life.”

Baltimore mourns Cardinal Keeler, former archbishop

Baltimore, Md., Mar 23, 2017 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal William Henry Keeler, who was Archbishop of Baltimore from 1989 to 2007, has died at the age of 86, archdiocesan officials say.

He died early in the morning of March 23 at St. Martin's Home for the Aged in Catonsville, Maryland, a home administered by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The cardinal's funeral Mass will be held March 28 at Baltimore's Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, after which his body will be interred in the basement crypt at the city's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a statement that getting to know Cardinal Keeler was one of “the great blessings in my life.”

Archbishop Lori added that after he was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore in 2012 “I became more aware than ever of his tremendous ministry in the City of Baltimore and in the nine Maryland counties that comprise the Archdiocese.”

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, also offered his “prayers of gratitude for Cardinal Keeler’s return to the Lord he so dearly loved,” in a statement.

“As a priest, Bishop of Harrisburg, and Archbishop of Baltimore, the Cardinal worked to bring the hope of Christ to people’s lives. He also built bridges of solidarity to people of other faiths as a leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs,” Cardinal DiNardo continued.

“Cardinal Keeler was a dear friend. The most fitting tribute we can offer is to carry forward his episcopal motto in our daily lives: ‘Do the work of an evangelist.’”

Cardinal Keeler was born in San Antonio, Texas March 4, 1931. After growing up and attending Catholic schools in Pennsylvania, he joined the seminary and then attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained there as a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg in 1955, at the age of 24.

During the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Keeler served as secretary to Bishop George R. Leech of Harrisburg. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg in 1979, and in 1983 became bishop of the same diocese. In 1989 he was named the 14th Archbishop of Baltimore, the oldest diocese in the United States.

Archbishop Keeler was also elected as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992, where he helped coordinate 1993’s World Youth Day celebrations in Denver, Colorado.

Archbishop Keeler was appointed a cardinal by St. John Paul II in 1994.

He retired in 2007, at the age of 76.

Cardinal Keeler was very involved in both interreligious and ecumenical activities, as well as the pro-life movement.

At the USCCB, he served as the moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations as well as the Chair for the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs between 1984 and 1987. He served on the International Catholic Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches over the years. He also served twice as the Chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

In Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler worked hard to secure funding for at-risk children and youth to attend Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Today, the fund that bears his name has awarded over 16,500 scholarships and has raised more than $70 million dollars in funding.

Other efforts of Cardinal Keeler include his hosting of both Sts. John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta during their visits to Baltimore, and his efforts to restore the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sean Caine, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told CNA that “the cardinal served the Archdiocese of Baltimore for 18 years,” a feat which made him third longest -serving bishop in the historic see. “He did so with great distinction, great clarity of vision and fidelity to the Church.”

Caine continued to explain the cardinal’s meaning to the city and the deep significance of his leadership over those nearly two decades.

“He was probably best known for his work in interfaith and ecumenical relations, which probably drew him close to Pope St. John Paul II, and that relationship bore particular fruit for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

During the Holy Father’s 1995 visit to Baltimore, the Pope “was the first and only sitting Pope to visit the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” Caine explained.

“He was a champion of Catholic education” and helped organize the local Catholic Charities’ comprehensive Catholic social services program, the Our Daily Bread Employment Center, Caine added. “It really is the cornerstone of Catholic Charities here in Baltimore.”

Archbishop Lori expressed that the city will feel the impact of Cardinal Keeler’s loss.

“Cardinal Keeler will be greatly missed,” Archbishop Lori wrote. “I am grateful to the Little Sisters for their devoted care for the Cardinal. May his noble priestly soul rest in peace!”

The Archdiocese of Baltimore asks that, in lieu of flowers, well-wishers make contributions to the Cardinal William H. Keeler Endowment Fund of the Catholic Community Foundation.

Why Catholics in Scotland want a statue for this martyred priest

Glasgow, Scotland, Mar 23, 2017 / 02:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Four centuries after the martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie, Catholics in Scotland have launched a campaign to mark the place in Glasgow’s city center where he was executed for preaching the Catholic faith.

The Order of the Knights of St. Columba, a U.K.-based Catholic fraternal organization, is backing the effort, the Scottish Catholic Observer reports.

“There should be something,” said the order’s Supreme Knight Charlie McCluskey. “He’s the only Scottish martyr and there’s not even a plaque. Whether you are Catholic, Protestant, whatever, this was an historic event in the history of the city that should be marked.”

John Ogilvie was born in 1579 to a family of Scottish nobles in  Banffshire. Raised a Calvinist, he converted to Catholicism in 1596 while at Louvain, Belgium, after being educated at Catholic institutions. He later joined the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest in Paris in 1610. He requested he be sent back to Scotland, which had become deeply hostile to the Catholic faith.

He was betrayed by someone who posed as a Catholic, and was then imprisoned for treason. He faced torture by officials who sought the names of other Catholics, facing sleep deprivation and needles pushed under his fingernails.

The torture did not succeed. St. John Ogilvie did not betray the faithful, and he was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Glasgow Cross on March 10, 1615, which later became his feast day.

Pius XI beatified him in 1929, and he was canonized by Blessed Paul VI in 1976. He is the only post-Reformation Scottish saint to have been canonized.

McCluskey has suggested the saint be honored with a statue in an alcove on the Mercat Building, owned by Glasgow City Council, which overlooks the Glasgow Cross.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow spoke of the saint in his March 10 homily, Scotland’s Sunday Herald reports.

“He died here in our city. He is an honorary Glaswegian. He belongs to Glasgow. And above all, his blood was shed for Christ here in Glasgow,” he said.

The archbishop noted the national shrine to the saint at St. Aloysius Church and a famous painting of him in Glasgow’s St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Archbishop Tartaglia said the saint’s example is important at a time when Catholics face “more subtle forms of restricting religious freedom.”

The Knights of St. Columba have made tentative inquiries to the Glasgow city council and reported finding no significant objections to the proposal. It aims to proceed if there is sufficient public support.

One of the campaigners to recognize the saint is John Patrick Mallon, who heads the Sancta Familia Media group based at Holy Family Church in Mossend in the Diocese of Motherwell. His group made a short film about the saint at the site of his martyrdom at Glasgow Cross.



“I was just really surprised there was nothing to mark it, not even a cross,” Mallon said. The social media campaign had “an amazing response” drawing the interest of hundreds of people.

The saint’s martyrdom inspired the transformation of the Pontifical Scots College into a seminary in 1616. Pope Francis discussed the saint in an April 14, 2016 address to students of the college.  

“The martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie, which was meant to silence the Catholic faith, instead was an impetus for its promotion and for defending the Church’s freedom to remain in communion with the See of Peter,” he said.

“We too are living in a time of martyrdom, and in the midst of a culture so often hostile to the Gospel,” the Roman Pontiff continued. “I urge you to have that same selfless spirit as your predecessors did. Love Jesus above all things!”

Vatican abuse prevention event 'extremely important' for Church

Vatican City, Mar 23, 2017 / 02:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday a Vatican event on the prevention of child abuse narrowed in on the importance of education in schools and parishes in the safeguarding of children – not only for teachers, but for parents and children – and on the Church's role.

Led by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, he told CNA at the March 23 event that Catholic schools are, of course, a very important part of the Church’s and Commission's ministry.

There are “60 million children in our care in Catholic schools and so this kind of a conference is extremely important for the ministry of the Church,” O'Malley said. “And we were very gratified that so many cardinals made time to be a part of this.”

The seminar was attended by five different cardinals in addition to O'Malley, including Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, were also in attendance.

Additionally, every Vatican department was represented in some way.

Fr. Hans Zollner SJ, who heads the Center for Child Protection (CCP) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is also a member of the commission, told CNA that it was a “very successful event, in drawing many high ranking members of the Curia, including a number of cardinals…all the dicasteries represented.”

“This is taking shape and the formation that we have offered to dicasteries has also been very fruitful.”

Sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection, the day-long educational seminar focused on what the local church and institutions are doing to combat abuse of minors specifically in schools and the home.  

It included a presentation by Kathleen McCormack, Chair of the PCPM Working Group on Education of Families and Communities, and presentations by representatives from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, as well as Australia and Italy.

One participant, Fr. Luigi Gritti, a graduate of a CCP course on child abuse, told CNA that it was important that South America was a focus of the seminar, since the U.S. and Europe are usually the focus when discussing this issue.

“It tells you that the problem is present and acknowledged by the people, but also that something is being done to address the problem. So I think it's a good development,” he said.

The presentations on South America all highlighted the importance of including children: speaking with and listening to them, teaching them about what is safe and appropriate behavior from adults, as well as becoming familiar with the visual and verbal signs that could indicate the occurrence of abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual.

The presenters for each country explained the unique cultural challenges they face in preventing abuse and in handling allegations, as well as what policies are currently in place.

In the presentation on Australia, Francis Sullivan, CEO of Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said that in the end, the question of why the sex abuse crisis happened in our Church comes down to cultural problems and to corruption.

Australia’s sexual abuse crisis has been one of the most shocking and widely known in the Church. Feb. 6, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held its final three-week review of how the Catholic Church in Australia has responded to sex abuse allegations.

Referencing a quote from Pope Francis where he said that we don’t only need to reform the Church, but also the heart, he said that “child sexual abuse has broken the heart of the Church.”

“We have never fully appreciated that the decisions that our leaders made in order to facilitate and cover up (abuse), actually broke the heart of what it means to be Catholic, and we need to go back and fully confront that,” he said.

“Let’s not distract Church leaders from recognizing that this is a Church problem. Sure, it might happen in other institutions, sure, it happens in families. But the fact that it happened within the Catholic Church says something about the corruption within our Church… That we are not true to what we are meant to be.”

Friday the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors begins their next Plenary Assembly, and one of the central topics will be how to ensure that survivors and victims are always the first priority, O’Malley said in his introductory remarks.

“The assembly begins tomorrow and of course that is one of the things we'll be talking about,” he told CNA. A meeting of survivors is planned for June that the commission will also be involved in, he said.

Regarding the participation of survivors, Fr. Zollner told CNA that “we need to be informed by survivors and victims, we need to listen to them, and we need to take into account what has been and is their experience.”

Other topics at the Plenary Assembly will include how the commission will continue after the mandate concludes at the end of the calendar year, he said, and “we will see what are the structural steps, or the development, we will need so that our journey continues,” he said.

St. Dismas

St Dismas is the man known as the "Good Thief" who was crucified with Christ alongside another criminal on Calvary. He is described in Luke's Gospel (29: 39-43) as repenting from his sins and asks Jesus to "remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."   St. Dismas´ feast is March 25th.