Denver, Colo., May 8, 2010 (CNA) - Catholic Charities is bringing youth and Catholic social teaching together in a radical new way this summer in the hopes of sparking a nationwide movement for the future of the Church. Christ in the City, as the program is called, seeks to form young people at all levels and send them out in the world to bring Christ into all sorts of ministries.
“The vision of Christ in the City is to have hundreds of young people from throughout the country serving in cities across the nation,” Dr. Jonathan Reyes, President of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, told CNA. “It’s a vision of a program that includes an intellectual dimension, a spiritual formation dimension, and a service dimension.”
“We want to integrate the whole human person in the service of those most in need,” said Reyes, “and we believe we can do that through strong education in Catholic social teaching, through living situations that are centered around the spiritual life and that include professional spiritual formators, and we know we can do that by getting people out on the streets and into our homeless shelters, and our emergency assistance care centers, and into the places that most need help.”
“In all of these locations, you are going to see the elements of God, care, love, home,” said Patrick Tracy, a college student who has been helping Catholic Charities set up the Christ in the City program. “And I promise you, that if you come to this Christ in the City program, you will not only be spiritually nourished in the act of serving others, you’ll be physically nourished from the sites.”
“In Christ in the City, you are going to see people, you’re going to see humanity, in its place, as they are,” described Tracy. “You’re going to meet people at their level and step out of your world.”
This year, the program begins as a two week “adventure,” said Reyes. Participants will walk around the city and get a tour of Denver’s homeless population. They will visit homeless shelters, meet with professionals with years of experience working to serve those most in need, speak with lawmakers, local business owners, and even Denver’s bishops, about what can be done to help serve from different perspectives in the community.
The hope is that, after experiencing the intensity of the two-week program, participants will be key contributors in setting up a year-long program with the same focus.
One of the goals of Christ in the City is to help people, not just in their material needs, but spiritually as well.
“We believe that Christ in the City is a program oriented towards serving the poor in all of their needs: the Spiritual Works of Mercy, the Corporal Works of Mercy,” Reyes said, extending his invitation to college-aged youth nationwide. “To help them, to befriend them, to serve them, is a testimony that the Holy Father is calling for.”
“Recently, the Holy Fathers, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have issued a summons to youth in particular to be involved in the formation and the transformation of our society,” recalled Reyes.
“We at Catholic Charities believe that a fundamental approach to this transformation is to have youth not only learn their faith and study their faith, but to literally take it to the streets.”
Milwaukee, Wis., May 8, 2010 (CNA) - Marquette University defended its decision to withdraw an offer to an openly lesbian faculty member to become a college dean after it became evident that the teacher's published writings opposed Church teachings on human sexuality.
The Jesuit university underscored the importance of finding a dean who is not only academically competent but represents “our Catholic identity.”
On Thursday, university officials announced that they withdrew an offer to Seattle University professor Jodi O'Brien to serve as the dean of Marquette's College of Arts and Sciences. The university said in a statement that O'Brien “was not the person who could best fill this very important position”and that the school had made “oversights” in their search process. According to the Associated Press, O'Brien's scholastic writings include sociological studies that detail lesbian sexual activity.
The professor expressed her disappointment to the AP in a recent email.
“At this time the only comment I can offer is to confirm that I was offered the position of Dean and I accepted it, but there was an intercession by the President before my appointment was announced officially,” O'Brien wrote. “I'm very disappointed. The College of A&S at Marquette is strong and vibrant and I was looking forward to working with the students and faculty there.”
Several faculty members and students protested the decision, claiming that O'brien's sexual orientation was the reason the university decided to rescind the offer.
Nancy E. Snow, a philosophy professor at Marquette and a practicing lesbian, argued that O'Brien's writings are not the problem. “I think it's all about her sexual orientation,” she told the AP. Snow added that Marquette rescinding the offer is “a public disgrace and an embarrassment.”
Marquette responded in a statement Thursday, stressing that the position of dean at its university “requires a unique combination of scholarly accomplishment, administrative experience, and the ability to represent our Catholic identity.”
“Some of the concerns identified in the process should have had more careful scrutiny, and publications relating to Catholic mission and identity should have been more fully explored early in the process,” added the statement. “While we did make an offer to one of the two finalists, in retrospect that was done prematurely without as much due diligence as was warranted.”
Although O'Brien has “an excellent background, a record of achievement and a strong academic track record,” the university said, “it was decided after further analysis that this individual was not the person who could best fill this very important position.”
“There were certain oversights in the search process, and we regret that deeply. As a result of this search, the university will revise some aspects of the search process,” the university statement said.
Fr. Robert Wild, president of Marquette, commented on the situation during a faculty award dinner on Thursday, underscoring that the decision to withdraw the offer to O'Brien was not a discriminatory act.
“I want to say it strongly, clearly and directly,” the reason for rescinding the position was “not about sexual identity,” Fr. Wild said.
“We have a variety of men and women here who are homosexual who work in all sorts of venues
in this university, holding a variety of positions,” he noted. “They do great work, they make a valuable contribution to this institution.”
Marquette's ruling on the matter “is certainly not about sending a negative message to these men and women,” Fr. Wild said.
The president also spoke to faculty members on the “work we need to do to get us to an even greater level of inclusion and support as a community so that decisions like this one as difficult as they are do not so quickly polarize us.”
“I can tell you that I will begin to make this journey of inclusion and diversity that we have already been on – a journey that this university has been on all of us together for a long time certainly during these fourteen years one of my priorities in my remaining time in office,” the university president told the faculty.
Brigid Miller, director of Marquette University communications, explained to CNA on Thursday that “Father Wild’s comments about he and the faculty making a journey of inclusion and diversity,” were “referring to the listening sessions and other opportunities over the coming days and weeks to begin the conversation that will allow the Marquette campus community to move forward together from this situation.”
“The university is currently planning discussion sessions with both students and faculty,” Miller explained, adding that the sessions will “give the Marquette community an opportunity to talk about the recent decision and to invite suggestions for the future.”
Vatican City, May 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation of German Bishop Walter Mixa on Saturday. The bishop had filed his resignation less than a month ago after allegations surfaced that he had physically abused children in the 70s and 80s.
Bishop Mixa had been nominated to lead the Diocese of Augsburg, Germany by Pope Benedict XVI shortly after his election as Peter's Successor in 2005.
The German bishop, who was also Germany's Military Ordinary, wrote the Holy Father on April 22 of this year asking to be relieved of his duties to "avert further damage to the Church and to allow a new start.” .
Allegations that he had physically abused children at an orphanage where he served in the 70s and 80s led to his resignation. When they surfaced, he first denied that he had hit the children but later confirmed that he could not "rule out the odd smack in the face 20 years ago."
Investigations into possible financial improprieties during his time as bishop are also underway and, as Reuters reported on Friday, the German justice system has just begun preliminary investigations into accusations of sexual abuse against Bishop Mixa. The accusations refer to the bishop's time at the head of the Diocese of Eichstaett, Germany from 1996-2000.
Vatican City, May 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Adding creativity to the call for solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI, an Italian television program will open a telephone line this week through which anyone can send text messages to the Holy Father. The messages, it is said, will be delivered to him directly.
The texting initiative was developed after an Italian national lay organization, CNAL, called for all who support the Pope to attend the Regina Coeli on Sunday, May 16, in St. Peter's Square.
Catering to those who cannot be present for the Regina Coeli, RaiUno television's "In His Image" program has come up with the idea of sending texts to the Holy Father through a line that will be open as of May 9. They claim that all messages sent to (+39) 335-18-63-091 will delivered to the Pope himself.
"It is a truly unique occasion," said "In His Image" show host Rosario Carello to SIR news agency. "Through this number anyone will be able to show their solidarity, even those who will not be physically in St. Peter's Square."
In a statement on April 14, the lay association announced the call to fill St. Peter's Square in order to "deliver our fidelity to the Holy Father into the hands of Mary for the good of the Church.”
Manchester, N.H., May 8, 2010 (CNA) - Jackie Anzivino has every reason to be a very proud mom. Her eldest son, Tony, is second in his sophomore class at Pinkerton Academy, runs track and plays guard for the JV State Champion Basketball Team, but it isn’t his scholastic or athletic achievements that make her beam with pride for her son. It is his declaration that all he does, he does for God.
Tony, a thoughtful, well-spoken young man, gives the credit for his steadfast faith to the example his mother sets for him, the solid foundation his Catholic school education provided, and the renewal he experiences attending Mass and Steubenville East Youth Conferences during the summer. Parable recently caught up with this busy family in their Derry, New Hampshire, home to talk about why Tony “runs for God.”
“Two years ago I went to Steubenville and it brought out a lot of different thoughts about God. I started thinking, ‘Why do I run?’ It’s what I love to do,” Tony says. “How can I make this something that I do for God? [I decided] that’s what I’ll do — all of my races — it’s not for me anymore. I’ll do it for God; for His plan.”
According to Tony, it was his mom who influenced him the most about God and what it means to keep a love for God the primary reason behind all of his choices and actions.
“Mom is the standout. She always wears a Holy Spirit necklace and she’s got a special relationship with Him,” he says. “The important thing is she hasn’t pushed me to love God. She’s showed me and let me experience it myself. Which I think is really special.”
Jackie, a part-time physical education teacher and Athletic Director at St. Catherine School in Manchester, admits her hands-off approach was a risk, but it definitely paid off.
Tony says that his peers, coaches, and teammates are all respectful of his faith (one coach holds his crucifix for him during races) and a few friends have even expressed their wish for a similar upbringing.
“One of my friends told me that he wished his parents had shown him a faith. He says he sees that it works for me!” Tony recalls. “I have a lot of friends who complain about having to go to church on Sundays but I don’t feel like that. It’s something I’ve grown up with and it’s become something important. It’s something that we need.”
There have been some challenges for Tony in high school, especially the initial transition from St. Thomas Aquinas School, which he attended through eighth grade, to the secular environment at Pinkerton Academy. Suddenly everyone he knew wasn’t Catholic and many of the students he met were making choices that Tony knew were not the right ones. It isn’t easy, as a teenager, to set oneself apart, especially by talking about God, but today Tony is very comfortable with his path. Despite what he sees other kids doing, he knows his motivation is different. “I love to play; I love the game. I just don’t want any part of drinking, drugs, or parties.”
One of the ways Tony centers himself and keeps his focus is with daily prayer. Tony gives thanks to God every day for what the day brought and he asks God to let people see Him through his example. He also uses the family’s weekly Mass attendance at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Derry as a chance to reflect on the larger picture.
“It keeps me on track. It gives me a chance to thank God for the week. I thank God at the end of every day for the good things that day,” Tony explains, “but church gives me a chance to look back and thank Him for the bigger things like my family and my abilities. God is the one who gave me the talents. I just try to use them.”
In addition to school and sports, Tony is an altar server at St. Thomas Aquinas, something he intends to keep up throughout high school. He also plans to attend more Steubenville East conferences in the future, this time with his younger brother Mitchel along. Beyond that, he is willing to let God point the way for him. A bright future awaits, but Tony is a young man alive to the present and the blessing it offers. “I don’t need to think about colleges yet,” he says, “I’m just a sophomore. I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Printed with permission from Parable, magazine for the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire.
Vatican City, May 8, 2010 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father named Archbishop Jose H.Gomez as a member of the Special Council for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. The responsibility is one of many for the newly appointed head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Vatican's announcement of Archbishop Gomez' nomination was accompanied on Saturday by the news of the appointment of the Archbishop of Popayan, Columbia, Ivan Antonio Marin Lopez to the same Council.
Archbishop Gomez comes into the new position from a background rich with experience in multicultural issues within the U.S. Church. In addition to a variety of other positions and responsibilities he currently holds, he is the chair of the U.S. bishop’s Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, chair-elect of the Committee on Migration and is a founding member of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (C.A.L.L.).
He was also nominated in 2008 by the Holy Father to be a consultant to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, which assists in providing for the Latin American Church's human and spiritual needs and was the first chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church.
The Council, which studies current issues within the Catholic Church in the Americas, will hold its next meeting Nov. 16-17.