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Update: Vatican asks USCCB to delay vote on sex abuse response proposals

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- At the urging of the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will not vote on two proposals they were to discuss at their Baltimore meeting regarding their response to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, informed the bishops as they opened their fall general assembly Nov. 12 that the Vatican wanted the bishops to delay any vote until after a February meeting with the pope and presidents of the bishops' conferences around the world that will focus on addressing clergy abuse.

Affected are proposed standards of episcopal conduct and the formation of a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the standards.

Cardinal DiNardo said he was disappointed that no action would be taken during the assembly, but that he was hopeful that the delay "will improve our response to the crisis we face."

The cardinal's announcement came two days after Pope Francis met with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, at the Vatican. Archbishop Pierre returned to the United States Nov. 11 in time for the first day of the U.S. bishops' general fall assembly in Baltimore.

However, at a midday news conference, Cardinal DiNardo said the request to delay action came from the Congregation for Bishops.

The assembly planned to move forward with discussion of both proposals from the bishop's Administrative Committee.

The Administrative Committee consists of the officers, chairmen and regional representatives of the USCCB. The committee, which meets in March and September, is the highest authority of the USCCB outside of the full body of bishops when they meet for their fall and spring general assemblies.

In response, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago suggested the general assembly move forward with its discussion of the two proposals. He also called for a special assembly in March to weigh and vote on the measures after being informed by the outcome of the February meeting in Rome.

"It is clear that the Holy See is taking seriously the abuse crisis in the church," Cardinal Cupich said, adding that the February meeting was a "watershed moment" in church history.

"We need to be clear where we stand and tell our people where we stand," he said.

Later in the morning session, just before the assembly adjourned for a day of prayer and penitence, Cardinal DiNardo opened his presidential address pointing to the weakness within the church that has led to the clergy abuse crisis.

Repeatedly citing the words of St. Augustine, he said "in order that weakness might become strong, strength became weak."

He called for action to lift the entire brotherhood of bishops from a place of weakness that has allowed the clergy sex abuse crisis to exist. While there were to be no votes on specific action at the meeting, he said the deliberations the bishops would undertake would set them on the route to healing for the church and for victims of abuse.

He also held up his own weakness to victims, saying: "Where I have not been watchful or alert to your needs, wherever I have failed, I am deeply sorry."

Cardinal DiNardo urged the bishops to root themselves in the life and teaching of Jesus to lead the church and the victims of abuse to healing. He also called for the bishops to focus on the needs of victims so that "our example not lead a single person away from the Lord."

He also said that the bishops must be as accountable as anyone else in ministry in the church and that they, like priests and other church workers, must adhere to the same standards of conduct identified in the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

"Whether we will be remembered as guardians of the abused or of the abuser will be determined by our action beginning this week and the months ahead. Let us draw near to Christ today sacrificing him our own ambitions and promptly submit ourselves totally to what he demands of us both in love and justice," he said.

In his seven-minute address, the cardinal said that he read that St. Augustine warned there are two extremes that pose dangers to the faithful -- despair and presumption.

"We and the faithful can fall into despair believing that there is no hope for the church or (for) good change in the church. We can also believe that there are no hopes for healing from these sins," he said.

"But we must always remember that there is a thing called trusting faith and it leads us on our current journey. This trusting faith provides us roots, roots for a living memory. Our people need this living memory of hope," he said.

Presumption can lull the church into inactivity, he added, "by presuming that this will blow over, that things simply return to normal on their own. Some would say this is entirely a crisis of the past, and it is not. We must never victimize survivors over again by demanding that hey heal on our timeline."

While the majority of abuse incidents occurred decades ago, the pain among victims "is daily and present," he continued and warned against leaving behind people who have been hurt by clergy.

"In justice we must search for every child of God whose innocence is lost to a horrific predator at any time decades ago or this very day," Cardinal DiNardo said.

He explained that healing can result through forgiveness, adding, "Let us not only be willing but also ready and eager to ask for forgiveness."

"Combating the evil of sexual assault in the church will require all our spiritual and physical resources," he said. "We must draw near to Christ in our sorrow, in humility and in contrition to better hear his voice and discern his will. It is only after listening that we can carry out the changes needed, the changes the people of God are rightfully demanding."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski


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Bishops must be blameless servants, not princes, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A bishop must be "blameless" and at the service of God, not of cliques, assets and power, especially if he is ever to "set right" what needs to be done for the church, Pope Francis said.

A bishop must always "correct himself and ask himself, 'Am I a steward of God or a businessman?'" the pope said in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae Nov. 12, the feast of St. Josaphat, 17th-century bishop and martyr.

The pope's homily looked at the day's first reading from St. Paul's Letter to Titus (1:1-9) describing the qualities and role of a bishop.

The apostle underlines how a bishop must be a steward or "administrator of God, not of assets, power and cliques," the pope said.

Most of all, he said, a bishop must be "blameless," the same quality God asked of Abraham when he said, "walk in my presence and be blameless." It is a quality that is the cornerstone of every leader, he added.

According to the apostle, a bishop must not be licentious, rebellious, arrogant, irritable, a drunkard, greedy or obsessed with money. A bishop with even just one of these defects, the pope said, is "a calamity for the church."

A bishop must be hospitable, temperate, just and holy; he must have self-control, love the good and be faithful to the Word, to the true message as it was taught, the apostle says.

If this is what a bishop should be, the pope said, then "would it be wonderful to ask these questions at the beginning, when inquiries are made to elect bishops? To know whether one may keep going with other inquiries?"  

Above all, the pope said, a bishop "must be humble, meek and a servant, not a prince."

This is "the word of God" that comes from the time of St. Paul and isn't something recent from the Second Vatican Council, the pope added.

The church can only "set right" what needs corrected when it has bishops who have these qualities, he said.

What matters to God, he said, is a bishop's humility and his service, not how nice he is or how well he preaches.



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Love and Sacrifice

Jesus points out the poor widows offering. Not because of the size of the gift, but because of the love that is shown through her sacrifice. Check out this week’s #1MinHomily with Br. Ken Homan. Based on the readings for Sunday, November 11, 2018, which you can find here:

Update: Archbishop Gomez: 'Pray hard' for all affected by Calif. shooting

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ringo Chiu, Reuters


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (CNS) -- Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez urged those attending a prayer vigil Nov. 8 to honor the memory of the victims killed in a shooting spree the evening before "by living our lives with greater intensity and purpose and with greater love for one another."

"May our Lord in his mercy receive the souls of those who have died, and may he comfort those of us who have been spared," he told the congregation at St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in Thousand Oaks. "We pray for peace in our communities and for peace in the hearts of all those who are troubled and disturbed."

Late Nov. 7, a gunman opened fire at a country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles from the heart of Los Angeles.

Thirteen people, including the suspected gunman and a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, died in shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill on what was college night, with lessons on country two-step dancing.

The bar is popular with students at nearby California Lutheran University, and also attracts students from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Moorpark College in Moorpark and California State University-Channel Islands in Camarillo.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Nov. 8 that the suspected gunman, Ian David Long, had legally purchased the weapon used in the shooting. It came less than two weeks after a gunman murdered 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, which was the largest mass murder in the United States since 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last Feb. 14.

According to the Associated Press, after Sgt. Ron Helus was shot multiple times and dragged outside the bar by his partner -- he died early Nov. 8 at a nearby hospital -- scores of police assembled outside and burst in later to find Long and 11 others dead. Eighteen others were injured.

Long, who had been wearing a black hood during the spree, was a former U.S. Marine machine gunner, and authorities said he may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the vigil, Archbishop Gomez told the congregation he brought with him "the prayers of the whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles."

"We are all so sad in the face of a violence that just makes no sense. We open our hearts to the families and friends of those who were killed, and we try as best we can to share their grief with them," he continued.

"The hurt they are suffering, we can never really know. What they have lost, we cannot return to them. But we can walk with them. We can help them to find healing and hope. We can help them to discover the love of Jesus, even in this dark time."

The 45-minute service drew more than 300. It was led by by St Paschal's pastor, Father Michael Rocha, assisted by associate pastors Father Luis Estrada and Father Al Enriquez. Archbishop Gomez concelebrated.

In his homily, Father Rocha admitted he could not answer the question of why this all had happened, only that "people are going through their own tests and trials and sometimes they communicate their own problems in horrific ways.

"We stop and pause and reflect upon our own mortality and our relationship with God." Also remember, he said, that "healing takes time ' your grieving is among the most sacred and human things you'll ever do. Honor it, and healing will take place."

Thousand Oaks Mayor Andrew Fox stood at the lectern at the church and asked for three things: "I'm going to steal a bit from St. Paul, but I want to talk about faith, hope and love."

Fox had already spent the morning and afternoon speaking to national and local media about the shock that affected his tight-knit community. Then he attended a civic center candlelight gathering of more than 1,800 in attendance that focused on the theme of "Thousand Oaks Strong."

But as the long sorrowful procession turned into night, and a local wildfire had now come into play that also challenged the citizens' levels of anxiety and anguish, Fox said he felt "at home here at St. Paschal with my Catholic brothers and sisters," where he and his family are parishioners.

Fox, who attended the service with his wife, Letitia, said: "We are fortunate as Catholics because our faith is strong, and we actually believe Christ died for our sins, so we pray for that same faith for those families that lost loved ones, many of them at a very young age."

Hope, he continued, is about "a better tomorrow. A better next week." As for love, Fox said he was "reminded of Scripture just last week when Jesus was asked about the two greatest commandments. He said: 'Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.'"

In a statement issued the morning of Nov. 8 in reaction to news of the shooting, Archbishop Gomez asked people to "pray hard" for the victims and their families.

"Like many of you, I woke this morning to news of the horrible violence last night at the Borderline Grill in Thousand Oaks," he said.

"Let us pray hard for all the families, for those who were murdered and those who were injured, and in a special way for the heroic officer, Sgt. Ron Helus, who lost his life defending people in the attack. May God grant perpetual light to those who have died and may he bring comfort to their loved ones and peace to our community."

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Nov. 8 statement asked all to pray "for the victims and their loved ones and all those impacted by this senseless violence." He also called for the enactment of reasonable measures to end gun violence.

"We must bring this tragedy to the Lord in prayer," said the cardinal. "This new incident of gun violence strikes just as the funerals are barely complete from the last mass shooting.

He added: More innocent lives are lost because of one individual and his ability to procure weapons and commit violence. The bishops continue to ask that public policies be supported that would enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this mad loss of life."

"Only love can truly defeat evil," Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement. "Love begets love, and peace begets peace, but anger, hatred and violence breed more of the same."

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Contributing to this story was Tom Hoffarth, who writes for Angelus News, the multimedia news service of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

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Religious groups made effort to drive their flocks to midterm voting

IMAGE: CNS photo/Octavio Duran

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Just before the polls opened on Election Day on the West Coast, the Franciscan friars of the Province of St. Barbara in California tweeted a photo of Brother Sam Nasada in a brown habit holding a sign, imploring others to vote, using a quote from Pope Francis: "Indifference is dangerous."

Religious groups such as the Franciscans in California were not the only ones urging voters to the polls during this year's Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Months before the election, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas used social media to encourage Americans to register to vote and on Nov. 6 provided polling information for different states online while encouraging those casting ballots to "Vote with Mercy."

It's hard to gauge just how much influence religious groups had on voter turnout, but many preliminary estimates released the day after the election said more than 113 million votes were cast -- the highest turnout for a midterm election since 1966, said a report from the U.S. Election Project.

During a Nov. 8 panel on "Religion and the 2018 Midterm Elections" sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Washington's Georgetown University, panelist Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of government relations for the Episcopal Church, said many religious groups were able to mobilize their flocks and form coalitions with other denominations around issues such as feeding the hungry, immigration and refugee resettlement. The latter has "rattled a lot of Christian groups," she said, since the Trump administration has moved to severely cut the refugee number.

Groups such as the Mercy sisters published guides about where they stood on issues such as racial justice, the economy, immigration and refugees, health care, gun violence prevention, global peacemaking and the environment. There's also the U.S. bishops' document "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," which covers many of those same issues and aims to guide Catholics "in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy."

The Mercy sisters' voting guide "2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide: A Call to Holiness" asked potential voters to reflect on issues based on what the Gospel and church teachings say and what to consider when voting for a candidate or an issue.

Preliminary analysis on how religious groups voted in the midterm elections released Nov. 7 by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that while many Christian denominations backed Republicans by large margins, Catholic voters remained almost evenly split between the country's two major parties. Pew's preliminary data showed that, of Catholics voting in the midterms, 50 percent voted for Democrats and 49 percent voted for Republicans.

Panelists from the Berkley Center's religion and elections event said they were interested to see what a breakdown of the Catholic vote will show, which might reveal the influence of the Latino Catholic vote or a move by more White Catholics toward the Democratic Party in the midterms.

Some panelists cited figures from a 2016 election poll by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute that showed Catholics overall voted for then candidate Donald Trump 52 percent to 45. However, a breakdown of that vote showed that white Catholics voted 60 to 37 percent for Trump while Latino Catholics voted 67-26 for his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

E.J. Dionne, a columnist for The Washington Post, who is Catholic and has studied the relationship between religion and politics, also was on the panel.

"I am coming to the conclusion at this moment in history that religion does not matter at all, that religion is often given as a reason but it's actually a rationale ' people are voting their identities and dressing them up in the decent drapery of religion," he said during the panel.

Religion matters in voting, he said, but a person's sense of identity seems to play a more important part. He referenced the 2016 PRRI poll that show the difference between white Catholics and Latino voters in voting for and against Trump.

"A very substantial majority of Latino Catholics voted against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton. That would suggest to us that there was not a particular Catholic thing going on there," Dionne said. "They were voting other aspects of their identity."

But he said Catholicism can exert a force on the views of people on both sides of the political spectrum.

"It makes conservatives more communitarian and it makes liberals think more about family issues, have qualms about abortion," he said. "I think it creates some tensions on both sides but I think Latino, White (Catholic) numbers suggest that those of us who are Catholics should not pretend that Catholicism is that decisive in people's views."

Panelist Clyde Wilcox, professor of government at the Georgetown University, said a more detailed view of the voters behind the numbers, which is not yet available, may show what could be happening for Catholics in the political landscape.

But he said that "gradually, what's happened over time is that whites are leaving the Catholic Church and Latinos have grown as a percentage but that's a slow growth. I don't know the data but this might represent a shift in white voters who are Catholic."

What this political season has shown is that religious groups made a major effort in organizing their flocks, by mobilizing people to vote for their values, forming coalitions with other denominations in areas where they agreed and participating in big and small events attended by religious leaders seeking to persuade religious voters on certain issues, Linder Blachly said. And some went beyond the grassroots efforts.

The Faith and Freedom coalition spent $18 million to mobilize the vote, Linder Blachly said, and had previously spent $10 million in the 2016 election. Most of it was spent on efforts to support the Republican Party.

"So, that's some real dollars and that's different," Linder Blachly said. "I haven't seen anything like that."

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Is China's targeting of Catholics pushback from low-level party officials?

IMAGE: CNS photo/Roman Pilipey, EPA

By Michael Sainsbury

BANGKOK (CNS) -- Although China and the Vatican signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in September, persecution of Chinese Catholics continues.

Some believe there is considerable pushback against the Vatican-China deal from inside China's United Front Work Department, the Communist Party-controlled religious bureaucracy, especially at a more localized level.

"Many officials at a local level feel they need to change in their old ways to deal with religions. This means a more difficult job and less power," said Francesco Sisci, a longtime Italian media correspondent in Beijing and now a senior researcher at Beijing's Renmin University.

"So, they are not happy," he told Catholic News Service. "So, they are sloppy or try to sabotage Beijing. If they undermine the agreement, they can recover some of their previous power. It is a proof of Beijing's determination in the agreement that problems are only scattered in a very few places and are not very widespread."

The latest controversy for Catholics is the detention of at least four priests: Fathers Zhang Guilin and Wang Zhong from the Diocese of Xiwanzi and Fathers Su Guipeng and Zhao He from the Diocese of Xuanhua. The men were detained during October and November; both dioceses are in Hebei province.

Their sin appears to be a refusal to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the government-sanctioned organization that works to control church leaders. A number of publications have reported the detained bishops have been subject to detention house arrest and indoctrination classes.

As well, the cross from the bell tower and the spires of a church in Shangcai County in central Henan province were destroyed; the church was sealed, reported Asia News, a Rome-based missionary news agency.

The campaign to "sinicize" religion has been officially underway since the annual meeting of the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee in October 2017. Then new rules and regulations on religion were introduced in February and March. The State Administration for Religion Affairs, which oversaw the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the government-sponsored bishops' conference, was disbanded, and its activities and staff were put under the direct control of United Front Work Department. This is the arm of the party responsible for policy on religions, and it answers directly to top party leaders.

Many people hoped the deal with the Holy See would see an end to the string of cross removals, church demolitions and the detention of clerics.

"What is happening actually is an application of the new regulations about registrations of priests and churches" implemented earlier this year, Sisci told CNS.

Lawrence C. Reardon, associate professor of political science, University of New Hampshire, noted that the current campaign is not focused just on Catholics, but is indicative of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's continuing campaign to control all religion.

"The lower levels have been given the green light and are continuing to tighten controls over Islamic, Protestant and Catholic official and unofficial communities," he said. While the Buddhist and Daoist communities seem unaffected, he said, the United Front Work Department is going after "commercial activities."

"I think the center does always have the capacity to control their organizations in the periphery, so you get some overly zealous cadre going after 'miscreants' in order to ensure that UFWD won't target them as being too lax," he said.

"The top has told them to tighten the screws, and the provincial/local levels are adding more 'torque' to ensure compliance and keep Beijing away," he said.

"The impression I have is that the UFWD is very happy to add more 'torque,' as they fear religious revival coming from abroad and from within."

The Sept. 22 deal between the Vatican and Beijing allowed the pope's veto over Beijing's candidates for bishops for the first time since 1951. Seven previously illicit bishops -- and one who is dead -- were forgiven and recognized by the pope.

One surprise about the provisional agreement was the lack of any decision by Beijing on the fate of 30 Vatican-appointed bishops who never registered with the patriotic association. The Vatican has said discussion on the official status of these underground bishops continues.

In the past, many of them have vowed not to join the patriotic association. But many are getting old, and while there is no official list, Sisci believes there may be "just a handful" who are below age 75, the age at which canon law mandates bishops submit their resignation to the pope. The pope does not have to accept the resignation.

Reardon said that while the Vatican has not forgotten about these bishops, "it is trying to find a way to finesse a just resolution of their cases."

He said this was always going to be "a step-by-step process, and the two sides have just gone through the initial phase ... who knows how long this will take? I'm assuming the Vatican is looking for a comprehensive solution so that the mainland church can undergo reconciliation and reunification."

Michel Chambon, a researcher at Indiana's Hanover College, is not so sure.

"I doubt that the state will do much about the underground bishops -- at least officially, " he said.

"I would be surprised if any official 'reconciliation/recognition' occurs. Still, the state might turn a blind eye to their work, as it has done in the past, to let continue their pastoral work, as long as they keep a low profile." reported Nov. 9 that Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, flew to Rome in late October and handed a seven-page letter to Pope Francis, appealing for him to pay attention to the crisis facing the so-called underground church in China. He told that, because some parts of the provisional agreement on bishops had not been made public, Catholics practicing their faith clandestinely did not know what they should do when government officials told them they must join the patriotic association because of the deal.


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Update: Archival find at Catholic U. leads to Kristallnacht remembrance

IMAGE: CNS photo/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy Trudy Isenberg

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jews worldwide will remember the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

In a direct German translation, it means "Crystal Night," but it is more commonly thought of as "Night of Broken Glass," as Nazis and their sympathizers rampaged through Nazi Germany -- which by this time had absorbed Austria and the Sudetenland -- the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938.

More than 7,000 Jewish-owned stores and businesses were damaged, more than 250 synagogues destroyed, more than 3,000 Jews arrested and sent to concentration camps, and nearly 100 more killed during the rampages, which shocked the world.

It was an open question, though, as to how American Catholics felt about Kristallnacht, which some had likened to a pogrom in which Jews are forcibly exiled. Father Charles Coughlin, the "radio priest" during the Depression, had been for years salting anti-Semitic commentary into his weekly broadcasts, which reached tens of millions of people, despite the grumblings of several U.S. bishops who wanted him off the air.

But it was the discovery in The Catholic University of America's archives in 2004 of an old, scratched record, labeled only "Catholic Protest Against Nazis -- Nov. 16, 1938," that set the wheels in motion for a long-overdue reconsideration of Catholic attitudes toward anti-Semitism in general, and Kristallnacht in particular.

The record, which was unplayable with the university's own equipment, had to be sent elsewhere to be digitized. What it contained was a half-hour program featuring Catholic bishops from across the nation, and former New York Gov. Al Smith, who became the first Catholic presidential nominee of a major political party in 1928, roundly condemning the Nazis' actions and expressing solidarity with Jews under the Nazis' rule.

Based on the discovery of that disc, Catholic University is hosting its own Kristallnacht remembrance Nov. 16, the 80th anniversary of that broadcast.

The free event will feature performances by faculty and students of musical selections by Jewish composers, and a composition written by Catholic University music professor Joseph Santo, "Malachey Elyon" ("Messengers of the Most High"), which incorporates texts from the broadcast.

Speakers will include university president John Garvey; Zion Evrony, former Israeli ambassador to the Vatican and a visiting Catholic University professor; CUA education archivist Maria Mazzenga on her research of the recording; and Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, dean of CUA's School of Music, Drama and Art.

After determining the record's content, "I contacted the folks at the (United States) Holocaust (Memorial) Museum," said Mazzenga in a Nov. 6 telephone interview with Catholic News Service. "This was something huge," she added. "It's changed the literature on Catholic responses to the Holocaust -- distinctly Catholic responses."

Further fruits from the recording netted a front-page New York Times article on the broadcast the day after it aired on both NBC and CBS -- a joint presentation unusual even then for competing networks.

Mazzenga also was able to track down five legal-size pages featuring the full transcript of the broadcast distributed by CNS' predecessor, National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service. "NCWC did a great job publicizing" the events of the time, she said. Mazzenga later edited a book and contributed an essay in a series of academic papers presented at a Holocaust Museum workshop inspired by the discovery.

A little further digging in the CUA archives found correspondence that spanned nearly a year between Irving Sherman, head of the Atlas Publishing and Novelty Co. of New York City, and Catholic figures who spoke on the broadcast.

In a Nov. 25, 1938, letter to Cardinal Dennis Dougherty of Philadelphia, Sherman wrote: "I, and I believe millions of others, cannot believe in your sincerity to teach democracy while you have a Father Coughlin openly preaching hate against his fellowmen," with the "e" printed by hand over the typed "a."

Father Charles Edward Coughlin was a Canadian-American priest based in Detroit who used radio to reach a mass audience. During the 1930s, an estimated 30 million listeners tuned to his weekly broadcasts. He eventually was forced off the air in 1939 because of his pro-fascist and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Sherman received a reply from Cardinal Dougherty, but it must have been unsatisfactory, for the businessman wrote back to the prelate: "With the Catholic Church and it strong organization, there should be no difficulty in squelching Father Coughlin at all. Instead of being humble and fully admitting that he did not tell the truth in regards to his accusations against the Jews, International Bankers, etc., he now shouts it further."

Later, in a missive to Catholic University rector Father Joseph Corrigan -- later a bishop -- Sherman complained about the "so called man of God Father Coughlin."

Father Corrigan wrote back: "Those who would stigmatize the Catholic Church for such conduct of one individual come very close themselves to the standard of judgment which they deplore when applied to themselves. It would be a wrong, and it truly is, to condemn Jews for the culpable actions of some Jews. How, then, can it be right to blame the Catholic Church for the attitude of one member?

"I have written you to this extent, my dear Mr. Sherman, in the hope that you will understand the difficulties of our position."

Thus began a fairly fruitful exchange between the two. In a letter to Father Corrigan dated Sept. 15, 1939 -- two weeks after World War II began in Europe -- Sherman sounded hopeful. "Our mayor is now taking evidence so as to prosecute the speakers who incite to riot and I think that now that Russia and Germany have aligned themselves together, these conditions of which I complain of may be eliminated."

He added that fellow members of the Jewish War Veterans of America were planning to sue Father Coughlin for his on-air remarks. It took another year, but Father Coughlin was forced off the air. The priest was silenced by the Vatican in 1942.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison


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Pope recognizes martyrdom of U.S. Christian Brother

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Christian Brothers of the Midwest

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of De La Salle Christian Brother James Miller, who was born in Wisconsin and was shot to death in Guatemala in 1982.

The recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James, or Brother Santiago as he also was known, clears the way for his beatification; the date and location of the ceremony were not immediately announced.

Publishing news about a variety of sainthood causes Nov. 8, the Vatican said Pope Francis had recognized as "blessed" a 15th-century Augustinian brother, Michael Giedrojc.

The recognition amounted to the "equivalent beatification" of Brother Giedrojc, who was born in Lithuania and died in Krakow. With the pope recognizing that over the course of centuries the brother has been venerated by thousands of Catholics, the normal process leading to beatification is not needed.

Brother Miller, the U.S. martyr, was born Sept. 21, 1944, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He met the Christian Brothers at Pacelli High School there and, at the age of 15, entered the order's juniorate in Missouri. After the novitiate, he taught Spanish, English and religion at Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, for three years. He also was in charge of school maintenance and served as the football coach.

Some websites refer to him as "Brother Fix-it" and an icon featured on the website of the Christian Brothers of the Midwest shows him wearing overalls.

In 1969, he was sent to Nicaragua, where he taught and helped build schools. According to the De La Salle Brother's website, "His religious superiors ordered him to leave Nicaragua in July 1979 during the time of the Sandinista revolution. It was feared that since he worked for the Somoza government, he might be at risk."

Returning to the United States, he again taught at Cretin High School. But in January 1981, he was sent to Guatemala, where he taught at a secondary school in Huehuetenango and at a center that helped young indigenous people learn job and leadership skills.

While on a ladder making repairs to the building on the afternoon of Feb. 13, 1982, he was shot several times by three hooded men and died instantly. No one was ever arrested for his murder. Funeral services were held in Guatemala and in St. Paul before he was buried in Polonia, Wisconsin.

In other decrees published Nov. 8, Pope Francis recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of Edvige Carboni and Benedetta Bianchi Porro, meaning both Italian laywomen can be beatified. Carboni died in 1952; Porro died in 1964.

The pope also recognized the martyrdom of more victims of the Spanish civil war: Angel Cuartas Cristobal and eight of his classmates at the seminary in Oviedo, who were killed between 1934 and 1937; and Mariano Mullerat Soldevila, a physician, husband and father killed in 1936.

In 10 other causes for canonization, Pope Francis signed decrees recognizing that the candidates for sainthood lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way, which is the first step toward beatification. The decrees included the cause of Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar of Lucena, Philippines, founder of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus. The bishop died in 1978.


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Update: Catholic agencies closely monitor giving after clergy sex abuse shock

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders and fundraisers at Catholic organizations are cautiously monitoring the level of donations and gifts as the end-of-the-year giving season approaches, hoping that the clergy sexual abuse scandal won't negatively affect their bottom line.

While most of the professionals contacted by Catholic News Service said it is too early yet to see what effect, if any, the abuse crisis may have on giving, some are taking steps to reassure donors that money contributed to vital ministries is not going for settlements to abuse victims or payments to attorneys.

The crisis is just one factor that concerns the leaders. There's also the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. It's effect on giving remains a question mark. "People remain confused about it," said Franciscan Sister Georgette Lehmuth, president and CEO of the National Catholic Development Conference.

"The main thing is no one knows. It's way too early," Patrick Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, told CNS.

Beyond that, some organizations have offered the expertise of their members to individual dioceses and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in areas of communications and finances as the bishops prepare to publicly address the abuse crisis during their fall general assembly Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore.

One effort to prevent a drop off in donations has been initiated by Catholic Charities USA. Dominican Sister Donna Markham, the organization's president and CEO, sent a letter to all donors Oct. 31 expressing concern about calls to withhold donations to any Catholic institution.

"This concerns me deeply," Sister Markham wrote. "I am very worried about the consequent impact this will have on many children and families living in poverty or on the edges of poverty right now."

The letter continues, explaining that Catholic Charities agencies annually serve 10 million people nationwide with emergency food, health care and other services. "Catholic Charities donations do not fund the bishops to the dioceses and cannot be used for that purpose," the letter said.

In an interview, Sister Markham said, "Anybody who is working in Catholic organizations right now is being hit by the fallout from the abuse crisis. We have been faced with some of our significant donors saying, 'No more money to Catholic Charities until the bishops straighten out this mess.'"

She said any impact will be known only after the holidays. "But people are calling us daily saying, 'Take me off your mailing list,'" she said.

"The issue here is that if anyone is really concerned or worried that somehow their donation will be misdirected and be used to fund the abuse situation, I think they need to be clear that we are not allowed to do that," Sister Markham added.

It's the devotion to mission that Sister Lehmuth holds up as key to helping the Catholic organizations weather any potential loss in donations.

She said her organization has urged development professionals at Catholic entities to "remind people how your money is being used."

"Don't wait until the end of the year," Sister Lehmuth said. "Keep reminding them what good your money is doing. And remind them of the good that the church is doing too."

Donations to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association have remained stable in recent years, but the organization is continuing to press how it is helping Christian communities in troubled areas of the world, according to Michael J. L. LaCivita, director of communications.

He said Catholic organizations are facing "a perfect storm" in the abuse crisis, the tax cut law and partisan political rancor in the U.S. that has caused people to carefully weigh where to send their money.

CNEWA has received letters from donors expressing anger about the bishops' failure to maintain moral authority over the church, LaCivita told CNS. He described the letters as "well thought out," offering carefully crafted words that express people's moral outrage.

"But the correspondence doesn't hold us responsible," LaCivita said, even though some writers have voiced concern that funds could be used for abuse legal settlements because bishops serve as the organization's trustees.

"People want answers and they want to have their anger heard," he added.

At The Catholic University of America, fundraising has continued to meet annual goals, said Scott Rembold, vice president for university advancement.

"We're not hearing a lot of people holding the university accountable for the crisis," Rembold told CNS, saying about 125 people had contacted the school since June when reports surfaced that Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick had allegedly abused seminarians years ago. Of those, about two dozen said they were not going to donate specifically because of the reports, he said.

The crisis has caused the university to put on hold a plan to build a residence for priests taking graduate level courses. Rembold said the project called for a new wing to be added to Curley Hall with a kitchen and chapel.

Because bishops were involved in raising money for the effort, university officials and the bishops on the board of trustees jointly felt it was best to put the project aside and that it could be reviewed in the future, Rembold said.

In a different path, two organizations have reached out to the bishops offering expertise and action steps to address the anger and concerns that people have.

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, convened a working group to address the abuse crisis. Alexia Kelley, the organization's president and CEO, told CNS that members generated "ideas and questions and recommendations and opportunities for action either together or independently."

"Our members really feel they have a responsibility as donors and philanthropists not to perpetuate practices or lack of practices that may enable or perpetuate abuse," she explained.

FADICA members will convene in February for the organization's annual meeting to discuss its recommendations for member action. The recommendations also will be shared with the USCCB.

Donors want to ensure, Kelley said, "that adequate safeguarding practices and policies are in place in all the ministries they support inside or outside of the church, and they would continue to explore ways they as philanthropists can support a comprehensive culture of safety in all levels of the church."

Meanwhile, at the Leadership Roundtable, lay Catholic professionals from various fields have stepped up to offer their expertise to assist the bishops as they addressed the sex abuse crisis.

The organization formed after the 2002 sex abuse crisis emerged with the goal of providing dioceses with lay experts who could help institute best practices in offices and ministries to ensure trust.

Kim Smolik, Leadership Roundtable's CEO, said the organization has received calls from more than 50 dioceses seeking assistance since the August release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that examined a 70-year period, beginning in 1947, in six Catholic dioceses. The report said that in that time span there were claims that 300 priests and other church workers had abused about 1,000 minors. It also claimed the church covered up abuse allegations and brushed aside victims.

Roundtable participants are stressing to dioceses that communication is key, Smolik explained, adding that donors are unlikely to withdraw their gifts, but that they want to know that the church is addressing the root causes of the current scandal.

"Laypeople are looking for the church to be responsive and repentant and say what has gone wrong. They are looking for a plan forward, looking for the plan to be implemented and they are looking to be communicated with all along the way," Smolik said.

"Laypeople want to be part of the solution."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski


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People unwilling to be challenged by God's mercy will grumble, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sin of grumbling and complaining is often triggered by a desire to avoid being challenged or upset by seeing Christ's unexpected mercy at work, Pope Francis said.

The way Christ gave witness was "something new for that era," the pope said, because it was thought that being with sinners "made you impure, like touching a leper."

That is why the "doctors of the law," scribes and Pharisees stayed far away from those who sinned and why they complained about Jesus' unusual ways, the pope said Nov. 8 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

They would read but never understand what God meant by "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," the pope said. But Jesus gives concrete witness to this mercy by the way he interacts with people, ending old practices and taking risks.

The pope's homily looked at the day's Gospel reading of the parable of the lost sheep, according to St. Luke.

When sinners drew close to Jesus to listen to him, the Pharisees and scribes "began to complain, saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'"

The scribes didn't say, "Oh look! This man seems good because he is trying to convert sinners," the pope said. Instead they start making negative comments to undercut Jesus' witness.

Rather than engaging in dialogue or "trying to resolve a conflicted situation, they secretly grumble, always in whispers because they have no courage to speak frankly," he said.

This negative reaction to the way someone gives witness or to "a person that I don't like" exists on all levels: in families, between individuals, in parishes and dioceses, even in nations and politics, he said.

"This is terrible -- when a government is not honest, and it tries to smear its adversaries with complaining, whether it be defamation, calumny," the pope said. Dictatorships, for example, take control of media outlets and, through them, "begin to grumble, to belittle all those who are a danger to the government."

Jesus, however, reacts to complaining not by condemning the scribes but by using the very same method they always employed against him -- by asking a question, the pope said. In the Gospel story Jesus asks, "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?"

The Pharisees and doctors of the law, Pope Francis said, figure it makes more sense to let the one go in order to keep the larger number safe.

"This is why they don't go speak with sinners, they don't visit tax collectors, they don't go because (they think), 'Better not get tarnished by these people, it's a risk.'"

"They are incapable of forgiving, of being merciful, of receiving," the pope said. "They choose the opposite of Jesus," who does seek out the one sheep and when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy.

That is the other thing the doctors of the law don't understand -- the joy and celebration of the Gospel, the pope said.

Giving witness to God's mercy attracts many people and "makes the church grow," the pope said. But it also provokes or irritates others, who start to grumble, using their complaints like a shield "so that this witness does not harm me."

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