Archive of July 17, 2013

Contemplative monk creates comic book to teach faith

Denver, Colo., Jul 17, 2013 (CNA) - Building on his lifelong love of comic books, an Eastern Catholic monk has authored a short graphic novel, “The Truth is Out There,” to help explain the truths of the faith in an understandable way.

“The reason I did it in cartoon format was because I didn’t think my friends would read it any other way,” Amadeus – which is the author's pen-name – told CNA in a recent interview.

“The Truth is Out There” tells the story of two space-age mail carriers who begin discussing the meaning of life at a coffee bar, and as they search for truth, one comes to find it resting in the Catholic Church.

In the book's introduction, Amadeus recounts that the work began a few years before he entered the monastery, during a conversation he was having with three friends of his who were all “born and raised Catholic.”

“It became appallingly clear how little any of us knew our faith…I had just stumbled upon the greatest problem of my generation of Catholics,” wrote Amadeus.

The monk told CNA that he “grew up loving to read,” and his favorite comic was “The Adventures of Tintin.” When he was ten, he was given a book “on how to draw comics.”

“Two, actually; one was how to draw cartoons, the other was how to draw superheroes.”

Amadeus found he “could do the cartoons alright,” and said, “I fell in love with cartooning.”

In high school and college, he wrote cartoons for his school newspapers, but “wanted to make drawings come to life,” and so became an aerospace engineer.

After working as an engineer for a few years, he felt a call to join the Maronite Monks of Adoration, a contemplative order located in Massachusetts.

The order is part of the Maronite Church, an Eastern Catholic Church based in Lebanon. The monks' life is contemplative, dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration and praying the Divine Office and the Divine Liturgy.

“When I came to the monastery, it was actually incredible: that was when I didn't want to cartoon,” Amadeus related. “I thought, 'I really have to settle into being a monk.'”

“But the moment I entered the silence of the cloister, it was like my head was flooded with cartoons. It was nonstop: I just had all these great ideas.”

Amadeus was able, “with a lot of mortification,” to “put off doing this book for a couple of years.”

But in the monastery, immersed in philosophy and theology, he found that he wanted to share the riches of the Truth with the friends he had known before entering his new life.

“Originally, I wanted to write it out as a letter with a few drawings, like the illustrated manuscript traditions,” he related.

But finding that “too boring,” Amadeus said, “finally I broke down and decided to do the whole thing as a comic strip because that’s what I'm good at; that’s what I do best.”

“The Truth is Out There” betrays a familiarity with the pre-Christian tradition of philosophy – Plato and Aristotle – as well as the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Amadeus said the comic format is “just the way I know how to get my thoughts, my ideas out,” and that “the harder the idea is, the more helpful it is to draw it out.”

Part of his motivation in drawing the graphic novel was to convey the beauty of the Church's faith, and Amadeus said that beauty – whether made by man or God – is meant to draw us to the Creator.

“The beauty that we create is obviously taken from the beauty of nature. And the beauty of nature is a reflection of God; that’s his work,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a better way to draw hearts to God, to Christ. That’s where all the beautiful churches and artwork, all those things we hold in such high regard…that was inspired by the beauty of nature to return to the beauty of God.”

Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, has written that “somehow the words 'comic book' and 'intellectually challenging' don’t usually go together, but they do in 'The Truth is Out There' by Amadeus…Thank you, Amadeus, for presenting the journey from the prison walls of our mind to the exhilarating freedom of the truth in such an exciting way.”

Amadeus' book was published by Catholic Answers in May, and is available at Amazon for $9.32.

He intends to write another comic novel, this time about salvation history, called “The Big Picture.”

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Retired bishop who served Chicago’s Polish community dies

Chicago, Ill., Jul 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Thaddeus J. Jakubowski, a retired auxiliary bishop of the Chicago archdiocese who worked with the city's Polish population, died July 14 at the age of 89.

“He was respected by the priests and he was very good in working with parishes,” Bishop John R. Gorman, a fellow Chicago auxiliary bishop emeritus, said the following day. The two were consecrated bishops together in 1988.

Bishop Jakubowski was “dedicated particularly to the elderly and (to) sick priests,” he added.

Bishop Jakubowski was 87, and had been a priest for 63 years and a bishop for 25. He was the Chicago archdiocese’s liaison to the Polish community and was executive director of the Catholic League for Religious Assistance to Poland.

He won recognition for this work through his 1997 reception of the Copernican Award. In 2009, the Polish government awarded him the Commander Cross with Star and White Eagle of the Order of Merit.

Bishop Jakubowski was born in Chicago on April 5, 1924 and grew up on the city’s southeast side. He graduated from St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School and from Quigley Preparatory Seminary, which he later served as a professor of classical languages and dean of students.

He graduated from Mundelein Seminary, earning a licentiate in theology. He earned a master’s degree in classics from Loyola University.

Cardinal Samuel Stritch ordained him a priest in 1950 for the Chicago archdiocese. He served at St. Bartholomew parish and then became pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine parish.

Bishop Jakubowski was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Chicago by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on April 11, 1988. He then served the parishes on the northwest side of Chicago and in the western suburbs of Cook County.

After the bishop’s January 2003 retirement at the age of 77, he became co-vicar, with retired auxiliary bishop Timothy Lyne, to serve elderly priests in nursing homes, hospitals and health care centers. He also helped plan deceased priests’ visitation and funeral arrangements.

The bishop is survived by his brother and nieces and nephews.

Bishop Jakubowski’s visitation will be held at St. Robert Bellarmine on July 18 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. His funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Name Cathedral at 10 a.m. on July 19. His body will be interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City, Ill.

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Bishop calls for social action to address migrants’ challenges

Trenton, N.J., Jul 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop David O'Connell has issued a pastoral statement challenging Catholics to reach across partisan boundaries to pray and act for solutions to the challenges facing immigrants in the United States.

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I ask all Catholics and those who believe with us, to put aside any partisan differences to pray for all our immigrant sisters and brothers, particularly on Justice for Immigrants Sunday,” Bishop O’Connell stated July 8.

The pastoral statement of the successor to the apostles was delivered in advance of July 14, which is observed as Justice for Immigrants Sunday.

Bishop O'Connell hopes that with the help of Christians’ prayers and work, immigrants “too might know the 'liberty and justice for all' that is the foundation of this land we love.”

“Aside from those of us who have the privilege of being native Americans, the rest of us have ancestors who came to our shores from somewhere else, some willingly, seeking liberty and justice, while others, sadly, arrived in chains,” Bishop O’Connell commented.

He noted that while the Constitution prohibits establishment of a government-backed church, and that institutional distance is wise, “we can never ignore or forget the fact that God created all those who constitute the State as well as those within that same group who constitute the Church.”

“God has always been there in the fabric of American life regardless of the opinions of those who argue to the contrary,” he reminded his flock.

The bishop commented that the presence of God within the Church and within the United States more broadly should drive Christians to care for “the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned,” and anyone in need.

Bishop O’Connell highlighted a 2003 pastoral letter by the U.S. bishops' conference titled  "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope" that address the conditions facing immigrants to the United States, “strongly advocating the reform of a badly broken system in our country.”

“That something significant and substantial needs to be done is hardly arguable. How best to accomplish that goal continues to be a source of debate, even division within our nation,” Bishop O’Connell noted.

He lamented the tendency for American discourse to “paint the issues involved with political and partisan brushes, thereby adding to the polarization and the delay in resolution,” but cautioned that resolution of social issues such as immigration are “not Washington's problem.”

“It is a concern for all citizens of our country as well as those who hope to be, much as it was for our ancestors who arrived here with hopes for and dreams of a better life, ‘under God, with liberty and justice for all.’”

In this call for citizens to address the challenges facing immigrants, he cautioned Catholics against apathy, quoting Pope Francis’ criticisms at Italy’s own “migrant island” Lampedusa, that we “have become used to other people's suffering, it doesn't concern us, it doesn't interest us.”

Bishop O'Connell taught that “on the contrary, whatever we, as Catholics, can do to foster the hopes and dreams of those who see our country as their potential home is an imperative of the Gospel and of the Catholic Social Teaching based upon it, not of our political persuasion.”

However he encouraged the faithful that prayer “is a powerful prerogative and something that all of us can do.”

“I believe that with all my heart and soul,” he concluded.

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Pope Francis urges Irish, British to value each human life

Vatican City, Jul 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Ahead of Day for Life Sunday in the U.K., Pope Francis has sent a message to British and Irish Catholics encouraging them to promote the profound value of all human life in their societies.

“Calling to mind the teaching of Saint Irenaeus that the glory of God is seen in a living human being, the Holy Father encourages all of you to let the light of that glory shine so brightly that everyone may come to recognize the inestimable value of all human life,” he said in his July 17 message.

“Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

The message from the Bishop of Rome is sent days before the Day for Life will be celebrated in England, Wales and Scotland on July 28. Ireland observes the special Sunday on Oct. 6.

The timing of the message comes as Ireland advances towards liberalizing access to abortion.

On July 12 the Dáil, Ireland's lower house of parliament, approved a bill allowing abortions which would save a woman's life, including when the mother threatens to commit suicide. The bill still needs the approval of the upper legislative body, the Seanad.

In this message, Pope Francis underscored the need to care for life from conception to natural end.

“His Holiness prays that the Day for Life will help to ensure that human life always receives the protection that is its due, so that 'everything that breathes may praise the Lord.'”

Observing Day for Life Sunday, parishes in England and Wales collect proceeds during the day to support the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life related activities supported by the Church.

The day’s theme this year will be “Care for life: It’s worth it,” taken from a homily preached by Pope Francis when he was the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires at a 2005 Mass in honor of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, the patron of pregnant mothers.

“All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth,” he had preached.

“To give life is to open our heart, and to care for life is to give oneself in tenderness and warmth for others, to have concern in my heart for others.”

During the Mass he emphasized that “caring for life from the beginning to the end” is “a simple and beautiful thing. Go forth and don’t be discouraged … care for life, it’s worth it.”

Ireland's move towards legalizing some abortions follows the death of an Indian woman who was refused an abortion who died of blood poisoning because doctors failed to detect an E. coli infection.

Though the ruling Fine Gael party had promised in its campaign for the 2011 elections not to introduce abortion legislation, the party has now expelled members who voted against the bill.

Lucinda Creighton, junior minister of state for European affairs, was expelled after saying parts of the bill are based on “flawed logic and absolutely zero medical evidence.”

Four other Fine Gael members have been expelled for their opposition to the bill, as well as Sinn Féin member Peader Toibín.

Pro-life supporters maintain that the suicide threat exemption will effectively allow abortion on demand.

The bill does not allow for the abortion of fetuses who are able to survive outside their mother's womb.

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Archbishop's immigration book praised for focus on family unity

Denver, Colo., Jul 17, 2013 (CNA) - Archbishop José Gomez' new book “Immigration and the Next America” is being lauded for its emphasis on the good of the people and families affected by American immigration policy.

“The part that really impressed me, because it's not something you hear from either (political) party, is it puts a real emphasis on family reunification,” Michael Sean Winters, a writer at the National Catholic Reporter, told CNA July 15.

“It's not just being able to get engineers with graduate degrees from India into the country, it's being able to reunite families.”

In his book, the archbishop of Los Angeles stresses the importance of keeping families together, rather than deporting undocumented immigrants who are often parents to American-born children and “whose only crime is that they are here without the proper papers.”

Winters commented that Archbishop Gomez see that “they might not have college degrees and be teaching at Stanford, but they're human beings, and they are families that are divided by this incredibly capricious legal system that we've had.”

In contrast to Winters' praise, Los Angeles Daily News writer Tim Rutten called the archbishop's teaching “a right turn on immigration” based on the “values and historical fantasies popular on the American right” in a July 13 column.

Winters questioned to what purpose Rutten had written the column, saying, “I don't know what useful purpose that kind of article, or his reading of Archbishop Gomez' book, would serve if he's genuinely concerned about immigration reform.”

“You can read something with such a predilection that you actually miss what's being said, and I think that's what happened here,” he added.

Winters, who said Rutten's criticisms of Archbishop Gomez “just don't ring true” also responded to Rutten on his blog “Distinctly Catholic,” where he wrote that in fact, the archbishop's “effort to support immigration reform has been undertaken in the face of opposition from some conservative Catholics.”

Winters also wrote that Rutten's contrast of Archbishop Gomez' book with Pope Francis' homily at Lampedusa on July 8 was “especially ironic, and especially egregious.”

While speaking to CNA, Winters also pointed out that in a conference call April 22, Archbishop Gomez had said the Senate's immigration reform bill “leaves too many persons behind” in the path to citizenship – hardly a critique of the bill coming from the right of the political aisle.

On a similar note, the Los Angeles-based author and historian Charles Coulombe said that the archbishop's teaching on immigration cannot be attributed to political concerns stemming from either the right or the left.

“Rutten shows a complete misunderstanding of the issue … Archbishop Gomez writes as a pastor of souls,” the author of “The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI” told CNA July 15.

Coulombe said it's easy for those on the left – and the right – “to make quick comments, saying it's all political: 'the archbishop's pandering to the left, 'the archbishop's pandering to the right.'”

“No,” Coulombe responded, “actually the archbishop is trying to pander to God. That's who he's trying to pander to. I know you're not allowed to bring God into the conversation, but you can't understand the archbishop unless you do.”

The portrayal of the archbishop, with its “snide, snarky tone,” Coulombe said, betrays the fact that Rutten's column is “meant to poison the well,” discrediting all that Archbishop Gomez writes before anyone actually reads his book.

“The truth of the matter is that Archbishop Gomez is far from being either a right-wing fanatic, as Mr. Rutten would like to paint him, nor in favor of unlimited immigration, as those on the 'right' of this issue try to portray him.”

Coulombe called the archbishop “a highly educated man, and a pastor of souls, whose first interest is the salvation of the souls of the people who come through his archdiocese.”

Rutten claimed that Archbishop Gomez comes from the political right on immigration because he “expresses understanding for the view that undocumented migrants simply are lawbreakers,” including a quote from “Immigration and the Next America”'s first chapter.

Yet shortly after the text provided by Rutten, the archbishop noted that “illegal immigration is no ordinary crime.” He also urges that we stop deporting those people “whose only crime is that they are here without the proper papers.”

Archbishop Gomez, Coulombe explained, “has obviously tried” to make the issue understandable to those against immigration reform, “as opposed to simply condemning them.”

Rutten also faulted the archbishop for his criticism of secularization and – risibly – his supposed opposition to multiculturalism.

Archbishop Gomez' book is actually heartily in favor of welcoming people of many cultures to America, and tries to correct the perception that the country was formed solely by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

He writes in several parts that America is meant to “include and unite” and that citizenship is open to people of all “economic and racial categories,” in this country “where men and women from every race, creed, and national background” are called to live in equality.

Coulombe suggested that the mischaracterization of Archbishop Gomez' stance falls in a pattern of Rutten's. According to an Aug. 2011 report at The Wrap, Rutten was taken off the book review section of the Los Angeles Times for making factual errors.

While the archbishop and Rutten are both advocates of immigration reform, Coulombe said that in Rutten's eyes, Archbishop Gomez “agrees with him for the wrong reasons. His positions are not held for political reasons, and these people would like to transform everything into politics.”

Coulombe reflected on the immigration reform debate, saying that the archbishop's teaching on immigration is misunderstood, and often poorly received, because American Catholics “are so poorly catechized.”

“As a result, it's very, very difficult to get across a relatively small section of the Church's teaching, when the vast majority of us don't know anything about most of it.”

“In default of a strong catechetical basis in Catholic teaching, people fall back on whatever politics of right or left appeal to them, and that's an issue that hasn't been addressed,” Coulombe concluded.

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Pope to receive cross signed by 10,000 Colombian youth

Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro next week, Pope Francis will be presented with and bless a wooden cross signed by more than 10,000 youth from across 26 provinces of Colombia.

The Bishop of Rome agreed to receive the cross after he was sent an eight-page letter from Maria Isabel Magana, the Colombian coordinator of the Lewe Youth Movement. The youth movement takes its name, “Lewe,” from the Afrikaans word meaning “life.”

The letter included photos of young people with the cross and explained why they want to bring it to Brazil.

Archbishop Octavio Ruiz Arenas, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and a Bogotá native, delivered the letter to the Holy Father.

In her letter, Magana wrote that “after hearing your homily to young people on Sunday, April 28, inviting them to ‘go against the tide, as that does the heart good,’ we decided we should write you this letter.”

The movement hopes the cross will demonstrate “the love and commitment of Colombian young people for the Church and the world.”

Magana said the Lewe Youth were inspired by the first Colombian saint, Mother Laura Montoya, who promoted the Carmelite tradition of putting a cross, rather than a crucifix, over her bead so that in contemplating it “we might be the Christ who ascends the Cross in order to give ourselves completely for others.”

The young people decided that each signature would be a sign of the challenge to be another Christ on the cross.

“Young people are crazy about following the steps of Jesus and being faithful to his Church,” she explained.

The cross which will be gifted to Pope Francis is divided into pieces, and will be taken to Brazil by twelve youth of the Lewe movement. They plan to erect the cross at each of the main events of World Youth Day so that pilgrims from across the world will be able to sign it as well.

“Tears come to my eyes when I see the excitement with which the cross is received and how young people sign it with such tenderness,” Magana related to Pope Francis in her letter.

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African bishops promote end to violence in DR Congo

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jul 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At a meeting of African bishops, those of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have urged an end to the armed conflicts in their country, calling on all parties to “work actively for peace.”

The bishops called on African leaders “not to work for their own interests, but for the good of all,” at the general assembly of African bishops' conferences held this week in Kinshasa.

They also called on political leaders to “put an end to the war that has bloodied the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The bishops’ criticisms particularly focused on the M23 rebellion, focused in the North Kivu province, which borders both Rwanda and Uganda. The rebellion is an extension of the Second Congo War, which formally ended 10 years ago.

The area has witnessed many violent deaths, massacres and rapes. Over six million people have been killed there in the last 20 years. Hundreds of thousands of Congolese have been internally displaced or become refugees because of the conflict.

The Congolese bishops especially appealed to the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union to help end the conflict, Fides news agency reports.

The African bishops’ general assembly agreed on the need for their home countries to encourage their national leaders to “work for lasting peace.”

Africa’s bishops also adopted new policies encouraging the bishops’ conferences of individual countries to identify the need for “specific interventions, empowering everyone involved,” Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, in Angola, told Fides.

Bishop Louis Portella Mbuyu of Kinkala, in the Republic of the Congo, said that Africa needs a “good Samaritan” in politics who can think about how society is organized, to ensure that “the common good is the priority.”

Speaking in the homily of the general assembly’s closing Mass, he said that securing the common good means political and economic leaders “have to manage the wealth and power not for themselves, but for their brothers and sisters, with the pride to bring well-being to everyone.”

The general assembly’s final message called on all Africans to “urgently commit” to working for a fair social order “where everyone can enjoy the rights associated with their human dignity.”

The M23 rebellion began in April, 2012, when a group of largely Tutsi soldiers defected from the Congolese army. The United Nations is deploying a 3,000-soldier intervention force to counter the M23 group, which is fighting in part for control over the  mineral-rich territory.

In a show of solidarity with those suffering in North Kivu, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines wrote a letter this May voicing support for a federal regulation that would block American investment from supporting militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We send our ongoing prayers as innocent people in your country suffer and die at the hands of militias who control illegal mines, divide up your country and eliminate the rule of law,” Bishop Pates wrote to Bishop Nicholas Djoma Lola of Tshumbe.

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