Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - The bishops of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference have issued a statement on national health care reform, saying present proposals have “critical shortcomings” that violate Catholic principles concerning respect for human life and dignity and respect for consciences.
“Health care is not just another issue for the Church or for a healthy society. It is a fundamental issue,” read the bishops’ statement issued after an October 6 meeting. “Health care is a critical component of the Catholic Church’s ministry.”
The bishops noted that Pennsylvania’s Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies serve millions of people. They also described the Church as a “major purchaser” of health insurance for thousands of employees in Catholic agencies and institutions.
“The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania brings both strong convictions and everyday experience to the issue of health care reform,” the bishops stated.
“If a final health care reform bill does not have respect for life at all stages of development, respect for consciences, affordability and inclusion of all of society, the Bishops will be forced to oppose it,” they wrote, saying they prayed that “critical shortcomings” in present proposals be remedied.
The prelates voiced their concerns that the health care reform proposals being reviewed by Congress at present do not guarantee “fundamental rights.”
“Our Catholic moral tradition teaches that every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an innate dignity that entitles him or her to certain rights and protections. Included among these is the right to life and to have access to health care, which is essential to preserving human life and promoting human dignity.”
Genuine health care reform, they said, must restrict funding for abortion and must respect the consciences of health care providers. It must not impose excessive financial burdens on low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Legal immigrants and their family members must be allowed “timely access” to health care coverage, they commented.
Further, they wrote, there must be an adequate “safety net” for those who remain without health coverage.
“We will work tirelessly to improve the legislation to reflect these essential priorities,” wrote the bishops, adding that the Catholic community of Pennsylvania can be a “strong and reliable partner” in advancing health care reform that does not violate Catholic principles.
The statement from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference represents 14 bishops in the 10 different dioceses that cover the state.
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) -
A South Carolina priest bested an NBA basketball star and two professional poker players, including former world champion Daniel Negreanu, to win $100,000 in a poker tournament and qualify for a competition with a $1 million grand prize.
Fr. Andrew Trapp, associate pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Garden City, played in the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge held in Los Angeles, California. Among his opponents were retired NBA star John Salley, Team PokerStars.Net pro Vanessa Rousso and Negreanu, a four-time World of Series of Poker bracelet winner.
The young priest, who Fox News says is known as “Father Rambo” for his love of paintball, at one point held rosary beads while in a big hand against Salley. Fr. Trapp defeated Salley and Rousso before defeating Negreanu.
Playing the final hand of a game of Texas Hold’em, the priest was dealt a Jack of clubs and an eight of diamonds while Negreanu took a six of spades and a five of diamonds.
The flop, the game’s first three community cards, consisted of an eight of spades, a four of diamonds and a two of clubs. This gave the priest a pair of eights, while Negreanu could make a straight with any seven or three among the next two community cards.
Fr. Trapp lived up to his name when he went “all-in,” putting all his poker chips on the line.
“I wish you wouldn’t have done that,” Negreanu told the priest.
“You told me to be aggressive, so I’m trying,” Fr. Trapp replied.
“You’re bluffing right now, right, you don’t have an eight?” the poker pro asked. “You have a pair of eights? You don’t have to answer that…”
“My gut says I’m going to hit it,” he continued. “I call.”
The priest again took out his rosary. The next card was a jack of hearts, giving him two pair.
The final card, a two of diamonds, secured Fr. Trapp’s win.
“It’s one of those ‘Thank you, Lord!’ moments,” the priest explained to the show announcer after his victory. He also thanked Negreanu for teaching him how to play poker.
Fr. Trapp said all the money will be used for a new church building for his congregation, according to his audition video. His parish is $1.5 million short of its fundraising goal.
He also explained that he hopes to teach people that gambling in moderation is acceptable in Catholicism.
“The Catholic Church teaches that there’s nothing morally wrong making a bet or games of chance,” the priest remarked.
Commenting on his MySpace page, Negreanu said that the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge is “a game show first and a poker show second.” In his view, its fast pace benefits the amateurs facing the professional players.
Fr. Trapp will play for the contest’s $1 million grand prize in December.
Albany, N.Y., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - A pro-life feminist group has filed suit to block the use of New York state taxpayer funds to pay women recruited to donate their eggs for embryonic stem cell research.
Feminists Choosing Life of New York (FCLNY) filed the suit in the New York State Supreme Court last Friday.
“New York State has the responsibility to protect women,” commented FCLNY Executive Director Wendy McVeigh. “Instead, the state is using taxpayers’ dollars to entice young, economically vulnerable women to experiment in this medically risky procedure.”
The complaint in the case Feminists Choosing Life of New York v. Empire State Stem Cell Board charges that the board provides “significant monetary inducements to women” to engage in a “painful and risky procedure” that disproportionately appeals to economically vulnerable women.
The suit also charges that the payment program does not meet standards of informed consent and lacks other safeguards to ensure the disclosure of the risks associated with egg harvesting.
“There are no studies on the long-term safety effects of the medications and procedures used to extract eggs via hormonal stimulation,” the complaint says. “For this reason, researchers cannot fully inform donors of the risks of egg harvesting, making the woman’s consent incomplete and of dubious validity.”
In 2007 the New York state legislature committed $600 million to stem cell research. On June 11, 2009 the Empire State Stem Cell Board (ESSCB), which is responsible for administering the funds, passed a resolution authorizing up to $10,000 to be used to compensate young women who donate their eggs for research.
At the time of the decision Fr. Thomas Berg, who is a member of the ESSCB’s Ethics Committee and Executive Director of the Westchester Institute bioethics think tank, criticized the board for not allowing public comment. He also charged that the plan was “a gross exploitation of women for speculative research.”
Responding to the criticism, the Stem Cell Board issued a statement that said, “[e]xperiences in other jurisdictions indicate that lack of reasonable compensation to women who donate their oocytes to stem cell research has created a significant impediment to such donation, limiting the progress of stem cell research.”
The Board also added that New York state allows women to be compensated for donating their eggs for reproductive purposes and that, given full disclosure, the practice of reimbursing those who donate for research is “widely accepted as ethical.”
New York is the first U.S. state to provide such payments to egg donors.
According to FCLNY, the significant health risks of egg donation include ovarian hyper-stimulation, clotting disorders, kidney damage, ovarian twisting, pulmonary embolism, damage to future fertility, and stroke.
The National Institutes of Health guidelines for embryonic stem cell research recommend against payments to egg donors. The National Academies of Sciences’ guidelines also recommend that no cash or in kind payments be paid for egg donation.
Duluth, Minn., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday morning, Pope Benedict named Msgr. Paul D. Sirba, currently vicar general and moderator of the curia in St. Paul and Minneapolis, as the ninth Bishop of Duluth, Minnesota, filling the position left vacant when Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr was appointed as coadjutor of Cincinnati, Ohio in October 2008.
Two other bishop's appointments were also announced by the Vatican today: Fr. Fernando Isern as Bishop of Pueblo, Colorado and Msgr. Robert C. Evans as auxiliary of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.
According to the Diocese of Duluth, Bishop-elect Sirba was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1986 and served as an associate pastor for five years. He then worked as a member of the spiritual formation department at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul from 1991 – 2000.
For the next six years, Msgr. Sirba, served as a pastor before becoming spiritual director at the Saint Paul Seminary in 2006. He remained at the seminary until this past July when he was appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese.
Archbishop John Neinstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis expressed his joy at Msgr. Sirba's appointment, praising his dedication to the priesthood.
“Bishop-elect Sirba has been a priest of this Archdiocese for 23 years, and during that time, he has served with great distinction as a pastor, spiritual director at both our undergraduate and graduate seminaries, and more recently, as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese,” Archbishop Nienstedt said in a statement today. “ He is held in high esteem by the clergy of this local church. Along with his brother priests and the parishioners he has served, I greatly value his many valuable contributions to the building up of our Catholic faith here in St. Paul and Minneapolis. He will truly be missed.”
The diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Duluth, Fr. James Bissonette, also welcomed the news of the appointment, noting the bishop-elect's character and spiritual life.
“I have known Bishop-elect Sirba since our seminary days. I know him to be a very good man and a fine priest with a deep spirituality. It is a special joy that he comes to our diocese somewhat familiar with it, since he already knows many of the priests and his brother Father Joseph Sirba serves here as a pastor.
“I, together with the lay faithful, religious and clergy of the Diocese of Duluth, welcome our new bishop and look forward not only to his ordination and his installation but to assisting him in his new mission as our shepherd.”
The bishop-elect will serve 60,532 Catholics, 82 priests and 142 religious in the Diocese of Duluth.
Miami, Fla., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - This morning the Vatican announced that Fr. Fernando Isern from the Archdiocese of Miami has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Diocese of Pueblo in southern Colorado.
Bishop-elect Isern, 51, was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in southern Florida. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Miami in 1993 and has since worked at both pastoral and educational posts.
His appointment as the fourth Bishop of Pueblo, succeeding Bishop Arthur Tafoya, will be officially announced to the faithful in Miami at an 11 a.m. press conference by Archbishop of Miami John C. Favalora. Bishop-elect Isern will then make a statement in both English and Spanish, the archdiocese announced on its website.
In a statement provided to CNA, Bishop-elect Isern thanked Archbishop Favalora and all the clergy “for their example and fraternity” during his years at the Archdiocese of Miami.
“I am especially grateful for having been entrusted as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish. I have been able to experience the wonderful vibrancy and love of this Archdiocese in the commitment of its laity,” he said.
Bishop-elect Isern also touched on his time as President of Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School and Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School, which he said showed him “the wonderful contribution that Catholic education makes to the Church.”
Besides these experiences, the bilingual bishop-elect has also been involved in Hispanic and prison ministries, all of which, he explained, have led him to adopt “Caritas Christi Urget Nos” or “The Love of Christ Urges Us” as his episcopal motto.
Looking ahead to shepherding the Diocese of Pueblo, the newly appointed Isern said, “As Bishop of the Diocese Pueblo, it is a father’s love that unites me to its laity, priests and religious. The diocese encompasses Southern Colorado, an area with great natural beauty and diversity. Its people are rightfully proud of their history and cultural contributions.
“It is the love of Christ that urges us to now embrace each one as our own and to entrust ourselves to the generosity and hospitality of its people, as we recite the beautiful prayer of St. Theresa of Avila, whose feast we celebrate today, 'Let nothing disturb thee; nothing frighten thee. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices.'”
Bishop-elect Isern will be ordained on Thursday, December 10 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pueblo, Colo., the Archdiocese of Miami reported.
As head of the Diocese of Pueblo, a community with a large Spanish-speaking population, Bishop-elect Isern will serve 121,000 lay people, 90 priests, 33 permanent deacons and 94 religious.
Vatican City, Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - Several months after Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of four Society of St. Pius X bishops, the Director of the Holy See's press office, Father Federico Lombardi, announced today that the first meeting with representatives of the society will take place in Rome on Monday, October 26.
The meeting will be attended by a number of individuals, including Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Pontifical Commission; Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Dominican Father Charles Morerod, secretary of the International Theological Commission and consultor with the CDF; Archbishop Fernando Ocariz, Vicar General of Opus Dei and consultor with the CDF; and Jesuit Father Karl Josef Becker, also a CDF consultor.
According to Father Lombardi, the meeting will take place at the Palace of the Holy Office, which is where the CDF is housed. “The conversations will focus on open doctrinal questions and will remain confidential. A statement will be released at the conclusion of the meeting,” Lombardi explained.
After Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the four Lefebvrist bishops, the Vatican Secretary State issued a statement on February 4, 2009, explaining a series of demands that the Lefebvrists must meet including “full recognition of the Second Vatican Council” and of the magisteriums of all the Popes since Pius XII.
On March 10, the Holy See released a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops of world in which he explained the reasons for lifting the excommunication, noting that “until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”
Despite this clear warning, the Lefebvrist bishops ordained a group of priests at the end of June, which prompted a statement from the Holy See’s Press Office reiterating what the Pope said in his letter to the world's bishops.
Vatican City, Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - A new book on ecumenism, written by members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was presented at the Vatican today by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the same council. The book aims to look “both to the past and to the future" of ecumenical efforts.
The new work, which is entitled "Harvesting the Fruits. Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue. Ecumenical Consensus, Convergences and Differences," was recently published by the London-based publisher Continuum.
Cardinal Kasper explained at the Vatican's press office that the new publication "is the result of two years of intense efforts I undertook with officials of my pontifical council, in collaboration with our consultors and ecumenical partners.”
The work is dedicated to analyzing the main Protestant communities that were the first to establish ties with the Church following the Second Vatican Council, as well as examining the current situation, "with an eye both to the past and to the future," the cardinal explained.
During the presentation, Cardinal Kasper also announced that a symposium, due to be held in February 2010, will use the book as its starting point to discuss the future of Western ecumenism.
Vatican City, Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - During his remarks at the Synod of Bishops for Africa taking place at the Vatican, Bishop Joseph Shpandeni Shikongo of Capra, Namibia said condoms spread a “secular and relativistic vision of sexuality” and “encourage promiscuity,” thus increasing the spread of AIDS.
Speaking about the public health situation in Namibia, the bishop explained that while the Church in that country does everything possible to promote abstinence in the fight against this disease, she cannot compete with the government, “which is much better financed, has international advisors and access to the national media: television, radio and newspapers. So it has a greater influence than we do.”
Thus, the bishop continued, “a secular and relativistic vision of sexuality is spread. For the government, the primary concern is the prevention of infection and the main practical means of avoiding it is the condom: thus an unrealistic trust in its efficacy is being promoted.”
“The inefficacy of this means,” he explained, “is deliberately ignored and explained in a vague manner. Thus promiscuity is encouraged, which leads to a greater number of infections.”
Madrid, Spain, Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona, Spain voiced his support this week for the October 17 March for Life in Madrid and warned that with the legalization of abortion, “a true ecological disaster” has been unleashed in Europe and will turn it into “a continent of death.”
“This is a true ecological disaster, which affects the unborn child, the mother who has conceived him, the different people involved in the issue (the baby’s father, the grandparents, health care workers, etc.) and all of society that will suffer from the negative impact of this ecological disaster,” the bishop said in a pastoral letter.
He pointed out that since the legalization of abortion, “some 50 million children were not born, who would today be 50 million young people,” which Europe needs desperately as the population “is prematurely aging and is dying of sadness and despair.”
The bishop warned that the Spanish government’s new law on abortion would “multiply the number of those who are not going to be born,” since it would make abortion a right protected by a false freedom and would lead to women doing “violence against their own bodies.”
“Psychologically, each one of these mothers will be wounded for life. They will succeed in removing ‘something’ from their wombs that today they find bothersome, but will not remove the crime they commit from their minds and hearts. I know many women who cannot forgive themselves for having committed such an atrocity in their lives and who need to be consoled with the mercy of God,” Bishop Fernandez said.
He warned that with the new law women would pay the price for situations in which perhaps they are the least to blame. “Once again, the feminist cry for freedom for the dignity of women is drowned out by dispositions to turn them into simple objects of passing and irresponsible pleasure.”
For this reason, the bishop encouraged Spaniards to participate in the October 17 march for life. “Let us fight for life. Life is the future of man, never death. Let us support women in difficulty, giving them the means to assume the precious task of new motherhood,” he said.
Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have announced the dates for this year's 24-hour discernment retreats for young women. The rapidly growing religious community says that the current average of participants is 100 per retreat and that they continue to see a steady uptick in interest.
When the community's vocations director Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz was asked what it is that attracts women to travel from all over the world to attend a 24-hour discernment retreat, she gave a simple answer.
“Between you and me?” she asked. “All night Eucharistic Adoration.”
The weekend schedule is void of anything but the barest of essentials: arrival, talks, prayers and dinner, a game called “White Elephant,” a Holy Hour, Confession, Adoration, Mass and a Rosary for priests.
Summing up her experience, one retreatant commented, “The whole thing constantly tugged the strings of my heart.” “The Lord brought me closer to Him and drew me in. It was not just one thing that did this, but many… .”
Other women pointed to the sisters' contagious joy. “Joy seems to be the nature of the Sisters,” one retreatant wrote. “It shows forth in their constant and contagious smiles…”
With an average age of 26, the sisters manage to keep the young women on their toes, even when they themselves are outnumbered.
And outnumbered they certainly have been. Sister Joseph Andrew estimates that over 4,000 women have made the retreats in the past 12 years, the current average being 350-400 per year.
From there, the sisters send out the women to various communities if they have a call to the religious life. “All we want for anybody is the will of God, no matter what that is. That is what the Church today needs – saintly women willing to embrace whatever God’s will for them might be,” explained Sister Joseph Andrew.
“We send young women on to a variety of solid religious communities if we think that their vocation seems to be tending in that direction,” Sister Joseph Andrew said.
Although sending young women away is hardly what you might call a recruitment strategy, it works pretty well for these sisters – 17 young women entered this August, bringing the community total up to 99. “Our God is a God of surprises,” the vocations director laughed.
For each of the last 12 years, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan have held three 24 hour discernment retreats for young women, each attracting over 100 participants. This year’s retreats will be held November 7 – 8, February 20 – 21 and May 22 – 23.
For more information, visit: http://www.sistersofmary.org/category.php?id=133
Lima, Peru, Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - Peru’s former Minister of Health, Luis Solari, last week rebuffed the arguments of feminist organizations that are pushing for the legalization of abortion in the country. In his response, Solari lamented that these groups are encouraging women, whom they supposedly defend, “to kill their own children.”
During a televised debate on October 11, Solari confronted Gina Yanez, director of the Manuela Ramos feminist group, which is pushing for the legalization of abortion in Peru.
He explained that many of these organizations are receiving foreign money in order to promote abortion in the South American country, and that the feminists' claims that 400,000 clandestine abortions took place in the country last year are false.
Solari said that in 1994, reports showed that “there were 54,000 abortions in Peru, and they multiplied that by five, and in 2006 they multiplied it by seven. On the basis of what?” he asked.
“I was Minister of Health and I looked up these figures. The figures that appear in this official deception do not exist anywhere in the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Referring later to eugenic abortion, Solari explained that in other countries this is the pretext used to detect the presence of Down’s Syndrome in babies in order to have them aborted.
Addressing Yanez, Solari pointed out that she has publicly stated that introducing abortion in cases of rape or deformation “is the first step towards decriminalizing abortion because that is what this woman’s organization sponsors all over the place.”
After noting that it is immoral to promote the death of an unborn child, Solari reminded Yanez that her organization “receives foreign aid,” from countries that do not ascribe to all of the laws in Peru that defend the unborn. Yanez responded by saying, “That has nothing to do with it!”
“It has everything to do with it,” Solari countered, “because your organization is receiving money from countries that do not have these laws. Why are these countries encouraging us to abort our people? Let them keep aborting in their own countries, although I am against that as well,” he said.
“We must be clear. Peru belongs to the Peruvians. The rights of women contain duties, all rights have duties. The right of a mother includes the duty to defend the life of her child,” Solari said.
“I cannot comprehend how there can be women (like those of the Manuela Ramos organization) who encourage other women to kill their own children,” he added.
Medellin, Colombia, Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) -
Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui, who starred in the film “Bella” and has become a pro-life activist, is encouraging Colombians to attend a march this Saturday to protest a proposal to open an abortion clinic in the city of Medellin.
The actor has recorded a video in Spanish calling on Colombians to take part in the march.
Verastegui invites Colombians to be “the voice of those who have no voice” and to stand up against “the plans to build a Women’s Clinic with public funds where the crime of abortion would be practiced.”
“Let us defend those who are most innocent, the smallest, those who cannot defend themselves. I am speaking of the babies who are in their mothers’ wombs,” he said.
“Remember that abortion is not a right, but a tragic failure. It is the cruel and violent death of a human being and also involves irreparable harm to the mother,” he told Colombians.
“Colombia believes in children, Colombia supports life and not death,” he added. “Colombia is alive and will continue to be alive. We cannot remain passive about the possibility of death coming to our countries. Brothers and sisters of Colombia, it is time to stand up and proclaim that all life has dignity, that our children have the right to life and our families are a treasure we must preserve.”
The march will start at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and will wind through the streets of Medellin towards the Park of Lights. Organizers have asked participants to wear white or red shirts.
To watch Eduardo Verastegui's video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG4HrZ8wa-c.
Marquette, Mich., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop of Marquette Alexander K. Sample has commented on his request that Bishop Thomas Gumbleton not come to the diocese. He said it was “unfortunate” that the request has become public, but he explained that Bishop Gumbleton’s position on issues like homosexuality and the ordination of women required it.
Bishop Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, had been invited to speak by Marquette Citizens for Peace and Justice at St. Mark's Lutheran Church on the topic "Gospel's Call: Action for Peace." He also planned to speak at the Peter White Library about abolishing nuclear weapons.
Explaining that his action did not concern the group itself or Bishop Gumbleton’s speech topic, Bishop Sample said he was sorry for the negative impact upon the group, which canceled its meeting.
However, he noted that it is “common courtesy” for one bishop to inform another bishop ahead of any visit and to seek his approval.
“Only on October 9 did I receive any communication from Bishop Gumbleton, after this situation had already become public,” Bishop Sample said in an October 9 statement.
The Bishop of Marquette then noted his “grave responsibility” to teach Catholics on matters of faith and morals.
“Given Bishop Gumbleton’s very public position on certain important matters of Catholic teaching, specifically with regard to homosexuality and the ordination of women to the priesthood, it was my judgment that his presence in Marquette would not be helpful to me in fulfilling my responsibility,” he added.
Bishop Gumbleton was an early advocate of ministries specifically for homosexuals and opposed what he saw as unjust discrimination against them.
The bishop, who has a homosexual brother, has also challenged the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that a homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered.
Bishop Sample said he would not be able to prevent issues of contention from becoming a topic of discussion at Bishop Gumbleton’s appearance.
“In order that no one becomes confused, everyone under my pastoral care must receive clear teaching on these important doctrines,” his Oct. 9 statement concluded.
The prelate also offered his prayers for Bishop Gumbleton and all those negatively affected by “this unfortunate situation.”
Providence, R.I., Oct 15, 2009 (CNA) - Msgr. Robert C. Evans today was named auxiliary bishop in his home diocese of Providence, R.I. At a press conference today, the bishop-elect spoke of his gratefulness for the new appointment and assured the faithful in the diocese of his prayers.
“On the day of my ordination to priesthood I made a solemn promise to obey and respect my bishop,” he remarked. “This pertains to me even more so as an Auxiliary Bishop, since unity in mind and heart must reflect the particular bond of communion between and among those who share in the fullness of the priesthood in the College of Bishops. I pledge to him and to my brothers in the presbyterate of the Diocese of Providence my most precious gift: a priestly heart.”
Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, the sole bishop of the diocese since he was assigned there in 2005, also spoke at the press conference saying that he, as well as the diocese, “rejoices” at the announcement of the new appointment, noting the strong leadership abilities of the bishop-elect.
“Bishop-elect Evans is highly qualified to assume the Office of Bishop and this new position of leadership in our Church,” Bishop Tobin said in his statement. “He possesses remarkable gifts and talents, and has demonstrated time and time again his commitment as a faithful Priest of Jesus Christ.”
According to the Rhode Island Catholic, though he was born in the state of Georgia, Bishop-elect Evans, 62, attended schools in Providence until he was sent to study in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1969. There, he completed his seminary studies and was ordained a priest in 1973 for the Diocese of Providence.
After serving for several years in the parishes and as secretary to the bishop, he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law and received his licentiate in 1989.
Following his return to Rhode Island, the bishop-elect served as vice-chancellor and later chancellor of the diocese. In 2001 he traveled back to Rome to work as director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education and as part of the faculty at the North American College in Rome.
Msgr. Evans served as Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. between the years of 2005 and 2007. He currently works as pastor of a diocesan church and as an adjunct faculty member at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence.
The bishop-elect noted that in each of the ministries where he has served, “I have attempted, using my own meager talents, to do the work of the Good Shepherd, who both comforts and challenges those entrusted to his care.”
He continued explaining that the work of a pastor “is to be both a father and a brother, responsible to those for whom he cares but at the same time accountable to the Lord for the divine commission given by the Good Shepherd Himself; to be faithful is to be true to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, not seeking personal gain or private fulfillment but always and only what the Lord requires.”
“The ministry of a bishop as well as that of a priest is not measured in terms of achievements or successes but is understood only in the language of faith, hope and love,” he explained. “Steadfast in faith, inspired by hope, and motivated by love, I now look forward to exercising my new role among the Christian Faithful of the Diocese of Providence as Bishop Tobin deems appropriate.”
Msgr. Evans is currently scheduled to be consecrated a bishop on January 5, however the date is subject to change. In the diocese, he will assist Bishop Tobin in leading 651,000 Catholics, 390 priests and 104 religious.