Birmingham, Ala., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA) -
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was “direct and prophetic” in its call for justice and racial equality, an archbishop said on the occasion of the letter’s 50th anniversary.
“While violence surrounded Dr. King’s life, he proclaimed in word and deed the direction of his Savior, Jesus Christ – namely, that injustice must not be ignored, but neither can violence be addressed and eliminated by greater acts of violence,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said April 14.
Archbishop Kurtz’s remarks came at a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s letter, held in Birmingham, Ala. April 14-15. The event, which was organized by the organization Christian Churches Together, drew leaders of various Christian denominations from across the U.S.
King wrote his April 16, 1963 letter after he was imprisoned for parading without a permit as part of a large-scale non-violent protest against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Religious leaders of the time said his action was “unwise and untimely.”
Archbishop Kurtz, who was a 16-year-old Pennsylvania resident at the time, said King’s response showed “true wisdom, whose time had long since come.”
The archbishop praised King’s letter as “rich in foundations of scripture and human philosophy.” He noted that it cites Socrates, St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.
King’s letter told his critics that the law’s application against anti-segregation protests, like the political system of the segregated South, was unjust.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King warned, adding that the clergymen’s statement failed to express concern about the conditions he said caused the protests.
Archbishop Kurtz said King’s letter deserves a response that “asks for forgiveness for past sins,” gives thanks for the “clear gains” of the past fifty years, and resolves to “do more.”
“Much more needs to be done,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Kurtz noted several Catholic efforts to respond to racism. He cited the National Catholic Welfare Conference’s Aug. 23, 1963 statement on racial harmony and the 1979 U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter on racism, which condemned racial discrimination and racism as sins. He also noted a 1998 statement from two leading Catholic bishops condemning racism.
The archbishop said Christians must ask God forgiveness for sins of racism, especially “those that linger consciously or subconsciously in the present.”
The commemoration of King’s letter also featured the signing of a letter responding to King’s words, the Archdiocese of Louisville newspaper The Record reports.
Rev. Bernice King, a minister and King’s youngest child, participated in a panel discussion at the event. Other attendees included Presbyterian minister Rev. Carlos Malavé, executive director of Christian Churches Together; Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners; U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); and civil rights leader Dorothy Cotton.
Spokane, Wash., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA) -
A professor at Gonzaga University has countered claims by the school that it supports the campus' Knights of Columbus Council after the group's application to be a student organization was denied.
“Honestly I don't see that they're supported in any way,” Dr. Eric Cunningham, assistant director of Catholic Studies and faculty adviser to the university's Knights council, told CNA April 15.
On March 7, the university's student life division denied the council's application for recognition as a “student organization,” according to an April 5 report by the Cardinal Newman Society. The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic charitable fraternal organization with 1.8 million members globally.
“If they've been denied club status, the only way they exist here is that the members of the Knights of Columbus council are enrolled here,” Cunningham stated.
On April 10, Gonzaga's community relations director, Mary Joan Hahn, told CNA that “the Knights of Columbus College Council is on-campus and is supported by the University currently.”
This year the council has met at a seminary attached to the university, but has not been affiliated with the university, according to university paper “The Gonzaga Bulletin.”
Cunningham has noticed that the council is “listed in our advertising materials,” specifically in a brochure “that goes out to parents” showing the group listed as a student organization.
“So in other words, we're kind of using them as recruiting tool, telling parents that we have a Knights of Columbus council that their sons can certainly join if they come here.”
The Cardinal Newman Society posted excerpts from a letter from the vice president for student life at Gonzaga, Sue Weitz, saying that the Knights of Columbus could not be recognized as a “student organization” because the group is closed to women and to non-Catholics.
“These criteria are inconsistent with the policy and practice of student organization recognition at Gonzaga University, as well as the University’s commitment to non-discrimination based on certain characteristics, one of which is religion.”
Weitz wrote that the decision is not “some kind of litmus test of Gonzaga's Catholicity,” according to The Gonzaga Bulletin.
“It is a decision about social justice, equity, and the desire of the University to create and maintain an environment in which none are excluded,” she wrote.
Cunningham understands that roughly $1000 of the council's funds had been frozen by the Gonzaga student body association, and he said that “what I hear from the membership, is that hasn't been returned yet.”
“Not only are they not being supported, they haven't had their money returned to them. There's no official support.”
Cunningham has been associated with the council since 2006, and noted that he has made available to them the Catholic studies house, after “they were asked by the director of university ministry to stop meeting there.”
“They don't have a chapter house, they were actually asked to stop meeting in the house they had been using. So I'd really love to know what Gonzaga is defining as support for the campus council.”
Catholic identity, Cunningham added, is neither well understood nor promoted at Gonzaga University. The school was founded in 1887 and describes itself as a “Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic university.”
Although during his pontificate Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of Catholic identity in Catholic higher education, “there was no ground for anything Benedict said to gain any traction,” according to Cunningham.
The decision to deny the Knight's application to be a student group on the basis of non-discrimination policy “epitomizes the condition” at Gonzaga University, and that those who made the decision are “very much representative of the current governing climate of Gonzaga.”
Cunningham lamented that this is typical of numerous Catholic universities, saying that “there's nothing new about this” and that it “goes on I'm sure at every Catholic college campus in America, that hasn't made its decision to reform itself as a more 'Magisterial' school.”
“They just embrace a view of Catholicism that deviates wildly from any objective understanding of Catholicism that we might want to call 'Magisterial' or 'orthodox,' for lack of a better word.”
According to Cunningham, “Catholic universities are leading the way in turning Catholicism into a purely secular discourse and are restricting a serious intellectual engagement with what it means to be Catholic.”
Gonzaga University president Thayne McCulloh will be reviewing the school's Student Life Office decision, and is expected to come to his decision shortly after the academic year ends.
As faculty advisor to the Knights' council, Cunningham hopes to preserve the council as an “independent agent” rather than placing it under student ministry or the student life office at Gonzaga.
“We understand that Gonzaga considers the Knights of Columbus a discriminatory agency, and...they're going to be better off as an independent, free-standing club.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
As Benedict XVI celebrates his 86th birthday on April 16, the author of a new book on the legacy of the retired pontiff says his humility largely inspired the work.
“I was...fond of Benedict because he was truly humble man,” Charles Coulombe, author of “The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI,” told CNA April 15.
“He was kind of shy and retiring, but he was willing to re-invigorate the trappings of the papacy, not for his own benefit, but for that of the office. And that's true humility.”
The book, released in March, discusses the Church and the office of the papacy, gives a biographical sketch of Benedict's life, and addresses the reforms which the Pope undertook during his pontificate.
“It's a good, quick introduction to both the Church and the papacy for those who don't know anything about it, and it will be useful for those trying to figure out the areas in which (Pope Francis') papacy will be facing challenges,” he said.
The Los Angeles, Calif.-based author and historian said he was inspired to write it because he considered Benedict to have been “the best Pope I've lived under.”
Coulombe is most fond of Benedict because his work seemed particularly to “reflect what people in parishes and dioceses were living through in their Catholic lives.”
While acknowledging that the other Popes, since Paul VI, have had their own strengths and accomplishments, Coulombe says that Benedict's care for such issues as the appointment of bishops were what “really concretely affects the life of the individual Catholic at the end of the day.”
“Benedict seems to understand that if you're a believing Catholic, it's been pretty tough.”
Coulombe described living through a period dominated by the “hermeneutic of rupture” – a view that sees a fundamental break between the Church as it existed before and after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and of which Benedict spoke of in his first Christmas address to the Roman Curia
He said that the Bishop Emeritus of Rome was the “first authoritative individual” to address that problem “in which the average Catholic lives.”
Benedict's 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia, in which he defined the “hermeneutic of continuity,” is the key to understanding his pontificate, Coulombe said.
Among the four key areas of concern for him was the breach between the Church of the present and that of the past, which Benedict sought to heal with this interpretive lens.
The other three areas which Benedict's reform focused on, said Coulombe, are a “cleaning house” – or as his wrote in his book, “cleansing of the aberrations that have grown up within her – as well as reunion with other Christian bodies” and “addressing the great powers of this earth on behalf of the faith.”
These are areas in which Benedict began or continued reformation, and much remains for Pope Francis to continue with. “None of the areas Benedict worked in were 'solved,'” Coulombe said.
As Pope Francis' pontificate continues, he concluded, “this Pope, and his successor, and his successor, will have to deal with them.”
Coulombe's new work, released last month, is available in several e-book formats from Diversion Books for $4.99.
Vatican City, Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis is praying for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing and encouraging them not to be overcome by evil but fight it with good.
“At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good, working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come,” reads a message sent to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston on behalf of the Pope.
According to the April 16 message, Pope Francis is “deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries” caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston.”
The attack occurred on Monday evening during the annual Boston Marathon, one of the oldest and most prestigious races in the world.
Two blasts rocked the area around the finish line, about four hours after the contest began. This year’s race had around 23,000 people registered.
Hospitals reported at least 141 people injured, and at least 17 of them critically.
The explosions took the lives of three people, which according to the Boston Globe included Martin Richards, an 8-year-old boy who had come with his mother and sister to watch his dad complete the race.
The Pope’s message, sent via Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said that the Holy Father “invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response."
Vatican City, Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican is moving ahead with plans to build the International Family Center in Nazareth, a complex that will include a church, meeting spaces, a hotel for visitors and play areas for children, all as part of an effort to build up the family in the Holy Land.
The project was presented April 16 at a Vatican press conference by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Salvatore Martinez from the Renewal in the Holy Spirit movement, and Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Rite in Jerusalem.
“There are places, endowed with an extraordinary evocative and symbolic strength. Nazareth is one of those. It is the place where Jesus grew up,” where his house and family were, Archbishop Paglia said as he emphasized some of the reasons for choosing Nazareth as the location.
“It is a land—today even more than at his time—full of tension and pain. But perhaps precisely because of this, it is a land that more than any other claims the right to peace and universal brotherhood. … Christian families can become co-authors of this dream,” the archbishop stated.
Salvatore Martinez, who is the national president of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, hopes that the center will “become a privileged place for spreading the 'Gospel of the Family,' a 'showcase' of all the beautiful, the good, the true, and the just that the family offers and witnesses to in the world.”
The project took a major step in October 2012 when Pope Benedict XVI officially erected a foundation based in Vatican City by the same name, giving it the legal status it needed to proceed. The International Family Center in Nazareth Foundation was officially launched under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Family on Jan. 18, 2013.
The center will be built on a hill that overlooks the city and the Basilica of the Annunciation. The Holy See already owns some of the land that will be used, while another parcel will have to be purchased.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be 12 million euro (15.75 million dollars).
Once it is fully operational the family center will have a 500-seat auditorium, a diocesan pastoral center, meeting and study rooms, a 500-seat church, lodging for a residential community, a 100-room hotel with a restaurant designed to accommodate families, a playground and an outdoor children's entertainment area.
Archbishop Paglia described the center’s mission as being a place that encourages the spirituality of the family, provides formation of parental and family life and helps families prepare to engage in the New Evangelization.
“It will be a permanent observatory of study on family ministry in the world, especially in the Holy Land and the Middle East. … And it will be a material support to families in need, especially in the Holy Land, through international fund raising projects,” he added.
At the press conference, Martinez also announced the launch of the Portal of the Family, an online site developed under the concept of a “gift economy.”
The portal aims to provide a wide range of free services from doctors, psychologists, economists, lawyers, educators and priests who will interact with families to support grandparents, parents and children in their Christian lives. It will only be available in Italian at first but other languages, including English, are planned for the future.
Vatican City, Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Although some have worried Pope Francis’ creation of a group of cardinals to advise him means he is giving up some of his papal authority, an expert in Church law says a better description of the move is choosing the members of a cabinet.
Paolo Gherri, who teaches the Theology of Canon Law at the Pontifical Lateran University, told CNA in an April 16 interview that he believes Pope Francis “has in some ways chosen the ministers of his administration.”
“The eight cardinals are intended to decide the institutional-political line,” he asserted.
“After that, there will be probably a number of experts to determine the way this line can be put into effect.”
Gherri bases his analysis on a series of observations.
First of all, the choice of the commission is significant as far as Church policy is concerned.
All eight of the cardinals who were selected are residential archbishops, meaning that none of them work in the Roman Curia, the Vatican-based administration that assists the Pope in carrying out his ministry.
Also noteworthy is that only one of them is Italian – Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello – the head of the Vatican City State’s administration, and none of them is a canon law expert, which seems like a necessary skill for developing a reform plan.
It is also evident that “Pope Francis chose people with his same kind of approach,” Gherri said.
Their appointment is an “institutionalization” of a working group of like-minded prelates, he explained, adding that the move communicates “there is a sort of think tank working on new guidelines of ecclesiastical policy.”
But when it comes to how the reform will be carried out, no one is really sure what that will look like.
The debate on how to solve the Curia’s problems is split between those who maintain that the effort of the Holy See as an international body must not be underestimated, and those who underline that diplomacy is secondary and not part of announcing the Gospel.
The collaborator of a cardinal who took part in the conclave revealed in an April 15 conversation with CNA that “the pre-conclave meetings also dealt with the role and function of the Secretariat of State.”
According to the same source, some cardinals pushed for “a new organization to govern the Church.”
They proposed creating two papal secretaries: one that would handle the administration of the Church and one that would manage international relations and in some ways be detached from the central government of the Church.
Currently, the State Secretariat is divided into two sections: the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States, known as the First Section and Second Section, respectively.
Ways to improve the Curia’s efficiency were also suggested during the pre-conclave meetings.
Several sources agree that Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, put forth a proposal to create a moderator of the Curia (moderator curiae), a prelate who would identify inefficiencies within the Curia and work for a solution.
The idea was widely appreciated by the cardinals since many of them have experienced how slowly Rome responds to their requests and how the Curia’s bureaucracy can stall procedures for months.
But Gherri cautioned that it is “not time to outline how the eight cardinals on the advisory board will act” to reform the Curia, and what their meeting will be about.
The Pope “can bring into effect the Curia reform through an infinite range of jurisdictional choices,” Gherri explained.
“He could write a four-line motu proprio letter abolishing the current form of the Roman Curia or he could issue a more structured apostolic pastoral constitution that “rearranges the whole ‘geography’ of the offices.”
The eight cardinals will have their first meeting with Pope Francis on October 1.
In the meantime, the Vatican’s April 13 official communiqué on the group underlined that the Pope is keeping in touch with them.
Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic leaders offered prayers and sent words of peace to those affected by the explosions at the Boston Marathon, encouraging the faithful to pray for those involved and for the souls of those who have died.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston expressed his “deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon,” offering “prayers and concern” for those who were affected by the explosions, “especially the loved ones of those who lives were lost and those who were injured, and the injured themselves.”
The cardinal said that the city of Boston and all of Massachusetts are “blessed” for the first responders who aided victims. He praised the governor, mayor and police commissioner for “providing the leadership that will see us through this most difficult time.”
He also offered encouragement to the faithful, reminding them that in “the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today.”
At around 2:50 p.m. on April 15, two large explosions shook the center of Boston, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. According to statements by the Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department at an April 16 press conference, there have been over 175 injured, including 17 in critical condition, and three deaths.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the FBI is investigating the bombing “as an act of terrorism,” although the perpetrator and motive are not yet known.
A “deeply grieved” Pope Francis assured the people of Boston of his “sympathy and closeness in prayer,” calling for peace and efforts to “combat evil with good” through a memo sent via Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also issued a statement on the event, saying that the “tragic end” of the marathon “reminds us all that evil exists and that life is fragile.”
“The deaths and injuries of people gathered for the celebration on Patriots Day in Boston calls on all of us to pray for the souls of those killed, the healing of those injured and the restoration of peace for all of us unsettled by the bombings at a world renowned sporting event,” he stated.
The cardinal also offered “special prayers” for the Archdiocese of Boston and those working to help the wounded and their families.
He called for sensible security measures in order to oppose a “growing culture of violence in our world and even in our country,” as well as “an examination by all of us to see what we can personally do to enhance peace and respect for one another in our world.”
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C., also grieved for those who were injured and deceased, saying that the event “stunned us all” and reminding the faithful that “our most powerful tool right now is prayer.”
“While at this time we do not know the cause of these explosions, we know that the answer to the world’s darkness is to open our hearts to the light of Christ,” he said.
“Our faith in the Risen Christ in such times of sorrow offers us the confident hope that death shall not have the last word.”
Several bishops from across the country also voiced prayers and concern on social media outlets soon after news of the bombing broke.
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas posted a brief message on Twitter, inviting “all the people of Dallas to pray for those who have died and for those injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.”
“My thoughts and prayers are with the city of Boston and particularly with the spectators and runners participating at the Boston Marathon today,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, who reached out on Facebook to call for prayers and peace for all those impacted by the tragedy.
Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis, who was once a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston, posted a Prayer for Victims of Terrorism on Facebook.
The prayer calls on God to welcome “the victims of violence and terrorism” with love, offering comfort to their families and all those who grieve.
“Help us in our fear and uncertainty,” the prayer said, asking God to “bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.”
“Strengthen all those who work for peace, (a)nd may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts,” it added.
Vatican City, Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis made a phone call on the morning of April 16 to wish a happy 86th birthday to his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father also sent greetings to Benedict’s brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who has been at Castel Gandolfo with the retired Pope for several days.
Both Pope Francis – formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – and Msgr. Ratzinger will celebrate the feast day of their namesake, St. George, on April 23.
The Pope also remembered his predecessor at morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“Today is Benedict XVI's birthday,” he said as he began the celebration of the Mass, inviting attendees to pray for the retired Pontiff.
“We offer the Mass for him, so that the Lord be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Benedict announced on Feb. 11 that he would be resigning from the papacy at the end of the month due to old age and declining strength. Pope Francis was elected as the new Pontiff on March 13.
Boston, Mass., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The young Catholic boy killed when a bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon is being remembered by his family and educators for his kindness and enthusiasm.
Russ Wilson, regional director of the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester, which 8-year-old Martin Richard attended, told CNA that the child had received his First Communion in May 2012.
Wilson described the Richards as a wonderful and active family in the school community.
Martin was killed on the afternoon of April 15 in Boston, when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the city’s annual marathon, which generally attracts some 20,000 participants and 500,000 spectators.
Three people – including Martin – have died from the bombing and more than 175 more were injured. The FBI is treating the explosions as an act of terrorism, searching for both a perpetrator and motive.
The Richard family had reportedly been watching the race near the finish line when the bombs went off.
According to the Dorchester Reporter, the boy’s mother suffered a head injury from the blasts and his sister’s leg was severely injured as well. Both are currently in the hospital.
The Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy released a statement explaining that the entire school community “is offering its every prayer for the Richard family during this heartbreaking time.”
“Martin is a former student of the Academy and was a kind, caring, and loving young boy who had great enthusiasm for learning,” the school said. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy.”
ABC News ran a statement released by the boy’s father, Bill Richard, on April 16.
“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries,” Richard said.
“We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin.”
“We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover,” he continued. “Thank you.”
Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, state and federal lawmakers are offering assistance and support to the people of Massachusetts, along with promises of continued prayers.
“I'm supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in an April 15 press conference. “And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”
The president promised that “we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.”
On April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing at least three people and injuring more than 170. The annual marathon attracts some 20,000 participants and half a million spectators. It is held each year on April 15, which is Patriots’ Day, a state holiday in Massachusetts that commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
In an additional press conference on the morning of April 16, Obama noted that the “FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” though authorities “do not know who carried it out, or why,” nor whether the bombings were organized by an individual or an organization.
The president insisted that “the American people refuse to be terrorized,” relaying stories of heroism and kindness by strangers and bystanders in the aftermath of the bombings.
According to CNN, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden was on a conference call when he learned of the bombings. He interrupted the call to describe the explosions and say that “our prayers are with those people in Boston who have suffered injuries.”
“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow for the families who are grieving so suddenly right now,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner in a statement promising the prayers of the House of Representatives for victims of the blasts.
“This is a terrible day for all Americans, but we will carry on in the American spirit, and come together with grace and strength,” he continued.
Several political figures also spoke at a press conference in Boston on April 16. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren offered her “thanks to the first responders, to the firefighters, to the police officers, to the EMS, to everyone on the scene, including the volunteers, who came and helped those in trouble and helped save lives.”
“We are deeply grateful,” she added.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also thanked first responders and volunteers, saying while “terror was brought to the city of Boston,” the people also “know our heroes.”
“Boston will overcome,” Menino emphasized.
Governor Deval Patrick gave an update noting that no unexploded devices have been found by investigators and that the city will organize an interfaith prayer service to be held later this week. President Obama is expected to attend the prayer service.
Several U.S. Congressmen from the state also offered their support and prayers to those affected.
Rep. Jim McGovern tweeted shortly after the explosions, “My thoughts and prayers are with all those at the #bostonmarathon.”
Rep. Mike Capuano said in a press release that his “thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones as a result of the explosions in Boston.”
“Please know that you are not alone in your sorrow,” Capuano said. “I pray that those who suffered wounds recover fully and I thank our emergency personnel for their efforts today.”
“Like so many others, I have many questions about the events today that cannot yet be answered. However, I do know that we will stand together during this difficult time,” he added.
Freshman congressman Joe Kennedy III said he was “heartbroken by the news” and promised that he and his wife will “continue to pray for everyone back home as this terrible tragedy unfolds.”
Boston, Mass., Apr 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A priest who offered consolation to passers-by after the explosion at the Boston Marathon said that the event left him with the impression that evil can only be properly understood in the light of Christ’s passion and resurrection.
“So many people are looking at what happened, trying to make sense of it,” Father Tom Carzon of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary told CNA on April 16. “We can figure out where it was made and how it was made and who did it, but even with all that information it never makes sense.”
However, after spending the afternoon consoling those affected by the attack, he remarked: “the Cross and Resurrection, this is the story that does make sense.”
On the afternoon of April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 170 others. The FBI is currently investigating the explosions to find the motives and perpetrators.
Shortly after he heard the two explosions and saw police and emergency vehicles pass by, Fr. Carzon walked the few blocks from St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, where his order has offered perpetual adoration since 1935, to the finish line of the Boston Marathon to see if he could be of any help.
Police had already established a perimeter and were sending people away “stunned and confused,” the priest said.
He returned to the shrine where he and a handful of other priests set up a table on the sidewalk and offered water, food and an opportunity to talk for anyone who walked by.
Many of those who came by were “disoriented, confused or lost,” Fr. Carzon said, “so we just greeted people that came by, helping them or giving out some directions.”
“Some people really needed to unload their story and this was a time and a place where they could do that,” he continued. “That’s really mostly what we offered, the opportunity for people to tell their story.”
As Fr. Carzon recalled the day, he said he was reminded of the story of Christ meeting some disciples walking on the road to Emmaus after the Crucifixion.
“They were walking away and they were traumatized and saddened and discouraged and then the stranger was walking with them asking them, ‘What are you talking about?’”
The priest said that in this account, Jesus is prompting the men to share their story and “pour out their sadness,” even though he already knows the details.
“That image really is what stays with me,” Fr. Carzon said, “the experience yesterday of Jesus walking with us in our pain, in our sadness, kind of drawing out stories from us.”
As Boston begins to recover from the bombing, Fr. Carzon observed, “there is a whole city full of people who have something they need to tell; maybe they don’t even know they need to tell it.”
He added that once the victims had shared their pain, he would ask them if they would like to pray or if they even prayed at all.
“There were a couple people who just prayed there on the street,” he said. “How often do you stand and hold someone’s hand and pray on the sidewalk?”
Even though he shared just a few moments with each person, he said it was necessary “to step out” and “be present outside the doors of the church” and “on the street” to help others.
From there, Fr. Carzon said he hoped he and the other priests could perhaps “invite some people even closer to Jesus” in the Eucharist, recognizing him as “the source of real healing.”