Archive of October 16, 2010

International pilgrims fill Rome for canonizations of six new saints

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - With the approach of the Oct. 17 canonizations of six saints, excitement is rising in the streets of Rome. Often wearing distinctive dress, pilgrims who have gathered for the event include devotees of the first Australian saint and the first Canadian-born male saint.

The day before the event, St. Peter's Basilica was adorned with large-scale images of those who will be the Church's six newest saints.

Four religious sisters, a religious brother and a priest will be canonized in the morning ceremony in St. Peter's Square with Pope Benedict XVI himself presiding. Pilgrims have been filling Rome for days. Many stand out in their colored caps or scarves that show whom they have come to see "raised to the altars."

An estimated 8,000 people have traveled from the other side of the world to see the official recognition of Australia's first saint, Bl. Mary MacKillop. At the age of 24 she co-founded the Congregation of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, which still continues to carry out her motto "never see a need without doing something about it." She will be known as St. Mary of the Cross.

Cardinal Archbishop George Pell of Sydney, Australia said that she deserved to be the nation's first saint. He described her as a "fine Australian and an outstanding Catholic" in a Sunday Telegraph article to be published on Oct. 17 also in L'Osservatore Romano.

Br. Andre Bessette of Montreal, Canada will make history as the first Canadian-born man to be named a saint. On Oct. 15, Canada-based Salt and Light television premiered their new documentary on "the miracle man of Montreal." The show is called "God's Doorkeeper: St. Andre of Montreal."

The professionally made film follows Br. Andre from his humble beginnings to his funeral, which drew one million people to the enormous St. Joseph Oratory he built in Montreal. A doorkeeper driven by a deep devotion to St. Joseph, Br. Andre worked many miracles attributed to the saint's intercession. The film shows images of an entire wall at the oratory basilica covered in the crutches of those he helped to heal.

A Polish priest, Fr. Stanislaw Soltys, will also be canonized. President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorwski, and four of the nation's highest Catholic prelates made a visit to the Vatican on the ceremony's eve.

Among them was John Paul II's personal secretary, Cardinal Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow. They met with Pope Benedict XVI on the eve of the canonization, which coincided with the 32nd anniversary John Paul II's election to the papacy.

The remaining three saints include two Italians, Poor Clare Sr. Camilla Battista Varano and Sr. Giulia Salzano of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Sr. Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, the Spanish foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus, rounds out the "Class of 2010."

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Pope kept Chilean miners’ flag in apartment as reminder of their plight

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father displayed in his home a signed flag from the 33 Chilean miners as a reminder to pray for the trapped men until they were freed. Their rescue, said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, is a reminder of the value of all human life and the importance of dedication to saving it.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, in his weekly editorial on the Vatican television network CTV, reported that a young Chilean gave the flag to the Pope at a general audience. Benedict XVI subsequently took it home and displayed it as a reminder of the men’s plight and their need for prayer.

On several occasions during their more than two-month entombment, the Holy Father remembered the miners in public comments assuring them of his prayers. As he commended them to God on Oct. 13 rescuers were already extracting them.

The world watched as the 33 miners returned to the surface after 69 days under the earth. Fr. Lombardi noted the wide participation of the global audience in the "worries and hopes" of the miners, their families and all of Chile. It was "beautiful," he said, that through the media the world was able to become involved in the "extraordinary enterprise carried out to save some human lives."

It was the power of the media that allowed the world to participate in this situation, which brought awareness to the value of life, said Fr. Lombardi.

While the world is happy for the "new horizon" of those saved, he added, "in the background remains our memory of the numerous miners who in the different parts of the world have had or will have a different destiny due to misfortunes and unsafe work conditions."

Referring to those who die "forgotten and unappreciated," he asked why the "marvelous commitment of intelligence and passion" used for these 33 couldn't be multiplied to save more.

"Shouldn't the media continue to make the world participate in the commitment for life?" the Vatican media head concluded his editorial.

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Oakland deanery steps up to end gang violence

Oakland, Calif., Oct 16, 2010 (CNA) - Captain Paul Figueroa opened a September gang awareness workshop at his alma mater, Oakland’s St. Elizabeth Elementary School, noting that as a student at the parish’s neighboring high school, he couldn’t wear the school’s red color because he didn’t want to be confused with the Norteño gang that controlled his neighborhood.

Now wearing the dark blue of the Oakland Police Department, Figueroa helped bring about the first of several planned workshops in the diocese to teach parents, educators, clergy and staff how to recognize gang involvement and intervene.

About 70 teachers and staff from St. Anthony, St. Elizabeth, St. Bernard and St. Louis Bertrand parishes attended, learning about the symbols, colors and mentality associated with the city’s largest Hispanic gangs.

“We’re really going to be aggressive about trying to give you the information so when you see it firsthand, you can try to reach out and stop it, right from jump street,” Figueroa said.

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone requested the training, which will eventually extend to parents and children in the parishes, said Father Jesus Nieto-Ruiz, pastor of St. Anthony Parish. Father Nieto-Ruiz is leading the training efforts for his largely-Latino deanery.

“The idea is to get parents training on the gang culture and see if there is a way to intervene and prevent more teens from joining gangs,” said Father Nieto-Ruiz, noting that Latino gang members’ families are generally Catholic.

Gang culture hit close to home as Officer Doug Keely showed a clip from “Gang Wars: Oakland,” a television documentary that followed Keely and other members of OPD’s eight-man gang unit through familiar Oakland streets, as well as violent members of Oakland’s primary Hispanic gangs: the Norteños, Sureños and Border Brothers.

Keely indicated that the gangs mostly operate in East Oakland and parts of West Oakland.

The Norteños’ color is red, and members are the “foot soldiers” of the prison gang La Nuestra Familia, Keely explained.

The Sureños wear blue and are affiliated with the Mexican Mafia prison gang. The Border Brothers wear black, he said.

Each of the gangs has various cliques, which are smaller neighborhood gangs affiliated with the larger gang, Keely said.

Keely said most gang members no longer flaunt their colors, but generally wear white t-shirts and blue jeans so rival gangs won’t recognize them. He said they will conceal gang colors and symbols — especially on belts and belt buckles — or wear bits of color on shoe laces, bandanas, undergarments or cross necklaces.

Also popular is sports clothing in gang colors, he said, noting that gang members sometimes wear gang-colored clothing that has a sports team logo on it. “Everyone’s a big fan of the Oakland A’s, but they don’t normally wear red,” he said.

“We have to be aware of how dangerous the colors are,” Keely noted, pointing to the 2008 Oakland murder of 19-year-old Marco Casillas, who was wearing a red hat while walking his dog and was mistaken for a Norteño member.

“His father bought him that hat for Christmas or his birthday. It had nothing to do with gang life . . . but because that color was wrong,” Keely said.

Gang members also identify themselves with symbols in tattoos, clothing and graffiti, Keely explained.

Norteños, he said, often incorporate the number 14, representing N — the fourteenth letter of the alphabet — for Norteño or Nuestra Familia. They might use variations like XIV, X4, 14, or tattoos on hands or elbows that include a single dot along with four dots, Keely said.

Similarly, Sureños use 13 to signify the letter M for Mexican Mafia, he said. Rival gangs will cross out or replace an S with a dollar sign in their graffiti to show disrespect to Sureños, he said.

Gang members also display gang signs, making letters or symbols with their fingers, such as BB for Border Brothers, Keely said.

Though the training’s primary focus was on Hispanic males, Keely noted that two new female gangs are on the rise in Oakland, and that there are many violent non-Hispanic gangs in the Bay Area.

Following the OPD presentation, California Youth Organization discussed school strategies and gang interventions. Service providers on hand were Spanish Speaking Citizen’s Foundation, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, La Clinica de la Raza and Project Reconnect.

Feedback was positive, Father Nieto-Ruiz said. “Many participants felt it was very worthwhile and they learned so much. For some it was overwhelming, but eye-opening,” he said.

Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper for the Diocese of Oakland, Calif.

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Young people today have lost ‘moral vocabulary,’ says Archbishop Chaput

Victoria, Canada, Oct 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Addressing a conference in British Columbia, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver asserted that Catholics today have failed to transmit the faith to the next generation, which has resulted in young people losing their “moral vocabulary.”

The Denver prelate made his remarks on Oct. 15 at the “Faith in the Public Square” seminar sponsored by the Diocese of Victoria. He opened his speech with a reference to Shirley Jackson’s famed short story “The Lottery.”

Jackson’s story – set in rural 1940s America – features the tale of a small town that gathers every year to implore an unnamed force to grant a good corn harvest the people. Each year, town members draw a piece of paper from a wooden box to see who will be chosen for human sacrifice. A young mother ends up drawing the ominous black slip and is stoned to death by the community as part of the annual ritual.

Reflecting on Jackson’s piece, Archbishop Chaput cited professor Kay Haugaard’s analysis on how young people in academia in decades past would react passionately to the tale with intense classroom debate and discussion.

“She said that in the early 1970s, students who read the story voiced shock and indignation,” Archbishop Chaput noted. “The tale led to vivid conversations on big topics – the meaning of sacrifice and tradition; the dangers of group-think and blind allegiance to leaders; the demands of conscience and the consequences of cowardice.”

“Sometime in the mid-1990s, however, reactions began to change,” he said.

“Haugaard described one classroom discussion that – to me – was more disturbing than the story itself. The students had nothing to say except that the story bored them. So Haugaard asked them what they thought about the villagers ritually sacrificing one of their own for the sake of the harvest.”

“One student, speaking in quite rational tones, argued that many cultures have traditions of human sacrifice,” the archbishop continued. “Another said that the stoning might have been part of ‘a religion of long standing,’ and therefore acceptable and understandable.”

Another student brought up the idea of “multicultural sensitivity,” saying she learned in school that if “it’s a part of a person’s culture, we are taught not to judge.”

“I thought of Haugaard’s experience with 'The Lottery' as I got ready for this brief talk,” the prelate explained.  

“Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.”

“Haugaard’s experience,” he added, “teaches us that it took less than a generation for this catechesis to produce a group of young adults who were unable to take a moral stand against the ritual murder of a young woman.”

“Not because they were cowards. But because they lost their moral vocabulary.”

“Christians in my country and yours – and throughout the West, generally – have done a terrible job of transmitting our faith to our own children and to the culture at large,” Archbishop Chaput remarked.

“Instead of changing the culture around us, we Christians have allowed ourselves to be changed by the culture. We’ve compromised too cheaply. We’ve hungered after assimilating and fitting in. And in the process, we’ve been bleached out and absorbed by the culture we were sent to make holy.”

“We need to confess that, and we need to fix it,” he asserted. “For too many of us, Christianity is not a filial relationship with the living God, but a habit and an inheritance. We’ve become tepid in our beliefs and naive about the world. We’ve lost our evangelical zeal. And we’ve failed in passing on our faith to the next generation.”

Renewing Catholic catechesis then, Archbishop Chaput added, “has little to do with techniques, or theories, or programs, or resources.”

“The central issue is whether we ourselves really do believe. Catechesis is not a profession. It’s a dimension of discipleship. If we’re Christians, we’re each of us called to be teachers and missionaries.”

However, the Denver prelate noted, “we can’t share what we don’t have.”

“If we’re embarrassed about Church teachings, or if we disagree with them, or if we’ve decided that they’re just too hard to live by, or too hard to explain, then we’ve already defeated ourselves.”

“We need to really believe what we claim to believe,” he stressed. “We need to stop calling ourselves ‘Catholic’ if we don’t stand with the Church in her teachings – all of them.” 

In his concluding remarks, Archbishop Chaput added that “if we really are Catholic, or at least if we want to be, then we need to act like it with obedience and zeal and a fire for Jesus Christ in our hearts.” 

“God gave us the faith in order to share it. This takes courage. It takes a deliberate dismantling of our own vanity. When we do that, the Church is strong. When we don’t, she grows weak. It’s that simple.”

To read Archbishop Chaput's full talk, visit:

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Phoenix diocese forges ahead with Manhattan Declaration seminar

Phoenix, Ariz., Oct 16, 2010 (CNA) - Despite a threatened protest by clergy from non-Catholic organizations, the Diocese of Phoenix will go ahead with its October 16 seminar on the Manhattan Declaration. The diocese maintains that the document upholds Catholic teachings that the Church cannot compromise.

The diocese will host Princeton professor Robert George, Alliance Defense Fund president and general counsel Alan Sears, and the Susan B. Anthony List's president Marjorie Dannenfelser for the Saturday morning event at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. Speakers will discuss the social and legal controversies surrounding abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and emerging threats to religious liberty.

Although explicitly Christian in nature, the Manhattan Declaration puts forth positions regarded as a matter of basic human reason and natural law by many religious and philosophical traditions. It was launched in 2009 with support from 53 Catholic bishops and three cardinals, alongside Eastern Orthodox and Protestant clergy.

Nevertheless, a group drawn from various denominations, called “No Longer Silent,” has called the declaration “spiritually violent and hateful.” They have condemned the positions presented in the Manhattan Declaration, judging it to be a work of “condemnation and judgment.”

As a result, the group is organizing a public protest outside St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix on the morning of the seminar.

A flier for the protest on No Longer Silent's website asserts that “the Manhattan Declaration declares war on LGBT and women's rights.” However, taking a different tone on its official Facebook page, the advocacy group lamented “polarization and mistrust” that have “displaced communication and understanding” in the discussion of controversial topics.

But on Thursday the Diocese of Phoenix indicated that the “misunderstanding” lay on the side of No Longer Silent and its leadership, in their characterization of the Manhattan Declaration.

“We gladly embrace our duty of putting our faith into action in defense of human life, marriage and religious liberty … and we do so with respect, love, compassion and joy in the truth of Jesus Christ,” the diocese stated.

Noting the Church's commitment to human dignity and the authentic rights of all people, the diocese urged “everyone to study and reflect on the Manhattan Declaration.”

This weekend's conference, the diocesan statement said, was an important call to first principles. “We do not compromise on our core principles, nor do we turn our backs on our nation or its most vulnerable citizens.”

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Deacon candidate who helped Chilean miners describes rescue

Denver, Colo., Oct 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Oct. 13, Greg Hall's prayers were answered. For more than two months of sleepless nights, the rock-drilling expert and deacon-in-training had been working to save the Chilean miners trapped in the San Jose Mine. The day after all 33 men emerged safely, Hall told CNA about the faith and hope he brought to a rescue operation many considered impossible.

Drillers Supply International, the company Greg Hall co-owns with his wife Angelica, has operated a Chilean branch for almost two decades, manufacturing parts for drilling hundreds or thousands of feet underground. When the Copiapó mine collapsed on Aug. 5, several of its customers initially worked “to find the miners, because nobody knew where they were.”

But Hall's clients couldn't drill deep enough to find them. “So they called my company to bring out all the equipment – which we make -- to help all five rigs be able to go down to 800 meters and start punching holes in the ground.”

“We did that for 17 days, and we actually thought the miners were dead.” Then, on Aug. 22, “(when) I was getting ready to go to Mass at 7 a.m., one of my guys called me and said: 'Greg, we think we hit a void, and we think we hear some banging on the drill pipe'. We pulled the pipe up, and in between the hammer and the drill pipe was a note … saying 'All 33 of us are alive'.”

Hall thought his involvement had ended, but it was just beginning. “About two weeks later the mining minister contacted us, and said that all the plans that they had were calling for bringing the miners out at the end of this year or maybe at the start of next year.”

His crew said they could do the job in six weeks. “About 80 percent of the people laughed at us,” Hall recounted, “but the other 20 percent were the ones who made the decision.”

“The path we had to follow came perilously close to old mine shafts,” Hall explained, while “the ground conditions and the size of the diameter we were going to be drilling” made for technical dangers. “The miners were trapped in the first place due to a landslide. There was a very, very real possibility that … we could cause another slide.”

Hall began to think of the trapped miners as his own family members. He urged his crew members to “think about those guys as if they're your son or your brother. Don't think about them as just some nameless miners. What would you do if that was your son down there?”

But when drilling began, his approach had to change. “During the actual drilling, I had to be very careful not to get too emotionally attached.” In communicating with the miners, he “kept it very, very technical” and  “wouldn't go to Camp Esperanza and see the families-- because I was petrified that I would make a decision based on emotion.”

The 17 days of drilling took steel nerves, and strong faith. Hall highlighted “one particular time when we were stuck, and really, I had no more answers. I was standing on the drill rig, and there really wasn't anything, technically, we were able to do. So I just started praying.”

The drill bit eventually loosened, and the team continued work on what Hall said was “the hardest job I've ever been on in my 25 years, by far.” One driller, Jeff Ward, regularly worked 12 hour shifts, and one 24 hour shift near the end. “We had a great team of a lot of people that really worked tirelessly,” Hall said, describing how they “went days without sleep.”

Explaining how his faith continually “shaped this job,” Hall recalled the day he left his parish in Houston, Texas to travel to the mine. “Our priest called me up on the altar ... we had probably over a thousand people. He told them that I was leaving right after Mass to go to Chile, and what we were going, and had them pray for us.

“And I can guarantee you, I could feel that prayer while I was on the drill site.”

Experts and colleagues called the project “impossible”-- both before and after its completion. One told him, when the operation was over: “There is no way you could have drilled that hole. God drilled that hole!”

Hall, an acolyte at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church who hopes to be ordained a deacon next February, said the rescue operation's success was not simply improbable, but miraculous. “I had a real experience of seeing God's work among his people,” he reflected. “I know there are miracles. But you know what? Now everybody knows.”

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