Washington D.C., Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
As tens of thousands of runners crossed the finish line in the Oct. 27 Marine Corps Marathon, 24 participants completed the race having raised over $25,000 for the Archdiocese for Military Services.
Matt Smith, president of the Catholic Advocate, ran his first Marine Corps Marathon with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, and said to CNA Oct. 28 that it “was a great experience,” and it was “rewarding” to do “so as part of Team AMS, knowing you are helping their ministry.”
“I had tried to enter the race when the general sign ups opened and was unsuccessful,” Smith said, explaining how he joined the archdiocese’s team.
“Then, when I saw the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA listed as a charity partner, I knew it was meant to be to run the race and help their efforts on behalf of our service members and veterans.”
The Marine Corps Marathon, also known as “The People’s Marathon,” is the fourth largest annual marathon in the United States, and the largest marathon in the world that does not offer prize money.
The race started in 1976 with 1,175 runners, in order to raise awareness and support for the Marine Corps and to help Marines living near Washington, D.C. qualify for the Boston Marathon.
This is the first year that the archdiocese has joined the race as a charity partner, allowing runners to raise money for the archdiocese.
By doing so, the Archdiocese for the Military Services raised $26,155 to support its ministries and to raise awareness among the public for its mission. The runners for the archdiocese included archdiocesan staff members, military chaplains, seminarians, military personnel, and civilians.
In the nearly 40 years since the Marine Marathon’s beginning, the race has grown into the ninth largest marathon in the world, with over 23,480 participants in the 2013 race - including 100 wheelchair and hand cycle participants- according to an Oct. 27 press release.
There was also a simultaneous 10 kilometer race sponsored by the Marine Corps Marathon.
The marathon course begins near Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon in northern Virginia, travelling into Washington, D.C, where it loops through parks and around the city’s national monuments including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument.
Afterward, the race crosses back to Virginia, around the Pentagon and 9/11 Memorial and ending at the Marine Corps War Memorial.
U.S. Army Captain James Hickman, a seminarian and a West Point graduate, ran the race in order to “personally contribute to the cause” of the archdiocese, he explained in an Oct. 24 press release before the race.
Hickman explained that by running, he is “raising money and awareness for a cause centered directly on Christ.”
He also explained that he sees the spiritual side of marathon training as well. Hickman said he views the marathon training process as “an opportunity to offer sacrifice on behalf of the AMS,” and explained that “each painful training run” was “offered for the souls in need,” and “each runner’s high” was “a reminder of my joy as a Christian man who has been redeemed by our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the military archdiocese, has been very supportive of the members and supporters of the archdiocese participating in the marathon. He has filled in at Mass for priests who were running in the marathon, and following the 2013 race, he congratulated and thanked those who organized the team for “their efforts in raising enthusiasm, attending to hundreds of details, and making everything a success.”
“Heartfelt congratulations are due to Team AMS for successfully completing the Marine Corps Marathon!” the archbishop said in a press release.
“To all of Team AMS, I congratulate you for surpassing your goal,” he added.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services is responsible for the pastoral care of the nearly two million Catholics who serve in the United States Armed Forces, are enrolled in military academies, or are patients in VA hospitals and medical centers, as well as their families and United States civilian government personnel deployed overseas.
Mosul, Iraq, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Chaldean archbishop of the Iraqi city of Mosul wrote in an open letter to Christians in the West that in the face of religious persecution, Catholics must continue steadfast in the virtue of faith.
Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Mosul arrived at his see in Jan., 2010, and the following day began a series of murders of Christians in the city.
“The faithful left the city to seek refuge in the small towns and villages nearby, or in the monasteries. Since then almost half of the faithful have returned. What can we do for these people? What can one do for those who are living the difficult life of persecution,” Archbishop Nona asked in a letter published Oct. 26 in National Review Online.
“These questions tormented me, forcing me to reflect on the right path to follow so I could fulfill my mission of service. I found the answer in the motto of my episcopate – namely, hope.”
He came to the conclusion that “during a time of crisis and persecution, we must remain full of hope. And so I remained in the city, strengthened in hope, in order to give hope to the many persecuted faithful who likewise continued to live here.”
Mosul's Chaldean archeparchy is supported by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity which assists suffering Churches in more than 140 countries. This assistance is necessary in Mosul, as facing extreme violence, many Iraqi Christians have fled their country.
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, Archbishop Nona's predecessor, was murdered in 2008.
In his letter, Archbishop Nona, who is only 45, reflected that even “to remain with the faithful in hope” is only “a crucial start” and by itself “it is not enough.”
“I realized that, above all – in the face of suffering and persecution – a true knowledge of our own faith and the cause of our persecution is of fundamental importance.”
A deepening sense of what it means to follow Christ will strengthen one in persecution, he said, and that the true challenge is “to know that we may be killed at any moment, at home, in the street, at work, and yet despite all this to retain a living and active faith.”
“From the moment when we are waiting for death, under threat from someone who may shoot us at any time, we need to know how to live well. The greatest challenge in facing death because of our faith is to continue to know this faith in such a way as to live it constantly and fully.”
Archbishop Nona emphasized that Christian faith is not a mere theory or abstraction, but the means to finding life's meaning, “its highest expression as revealed by the Incarnation.”
The first thing that Western Christians can do for their Iraqi brethren, he said, is to “make an effort to live out his or her own faith in a more profound manner, embracing the life of faith in daily practice.”
Persecuted Christians, he said “should be a warning – to you who live in freedom – to become better, stronger Christians, and a spur to demonstrating your own faith as you confront the difficulties of your own society.”
The archbishop added that persecuted Christians can be helped by materially and spiritually, including bringing their plight to greater attention and promoting Christian unity.
“The most powerful thing you can do in response to our situation is to rediscover and forge unity – personally and as a community – and to work for the good of your own societies. They are in great need of the witness of Christians who live out their faith with a strength and joy that can give others the courage of faith.”
Archbishop Nona said that persecuted Christians “are happy, because we have the opportunity to reflect on our choice to be Christians. We are happy because we have the opportunity to make our freedom concrete – by defending with love the one who attacks us with rancor and hatred.”
The Chaldean Catholic Church is based in Baghdad and is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, and is of the East Syrian rite.
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignation of Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid, in Sudan, upon having reached the age limit of 75.
Bishop Gassis was succeeded Oct. 28 by his coadjutor, Bishop Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria, 54, who has served as apostolic administrator of the diocese since August, 2010.
Bishop Gassis had been head of the diocese since May 1988. He joined the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus in 1957, and was ordained a priest for the institute of consecrated life in 1964.
He celebrated his 75th birthday on Sept. 21.
The El Obeid diocese covers more than 340,000 square miles in western Sudan, including all of the Darfur region, as well as part of South Sudan. In 2006, 151,200 persons in the diocese were Catholic, or 1.6 percent of the population. At that time, the diocese was served by 23 diocesan priests, and 12 religious. Around 97 percent of the Sudanese population is Muslim.
Bishop Gassis helped establish what is now known as the Sudan Relief Fund, a Virginia-based non-profit that has worked to support Catholic hospitals, a Catholic radio station, schools, water projects, food provisions and refugee kits. The organization also supports Catholic evangelization.
“May God bless Bishop Gassis on his 75th birthday, and always. Please join us in prayer for this good servant and shepherd and in thanksgiving for his life and witness,” Sudan Relief Fund announced recently on its website.
The fund recently changed its name from the Bishop Gassis Sudan Relief Fund in order to express an “expanded mission” to partner with other bishops, religious orders, and Catholic organizations throughout South Sudan.
“Under our new name we will continue to help the Church carry on the critical work of easing the suffering and saving lives of the persecuted people of South Sudan.”
Sudan and South Sudan were unified until July 2011, when South Sudan became independent seven months after a referendum.
The region suffered a severe 20-year-long civil war that killed an estimated two million people. The war inflicted atrocities such as religious persecution, enslavement, torture, rape, murder, and other crimes, until the war’s end in 2005.
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis has passed 10 million followers across nine different language accounts on the popular social media network Twitter, where users publish messages of 140 characters or fewer.
On Oct. 27, Pope Francis tweeted, “Dear Followers I understand there are now over 10 million of you! I thank you with all my heart and ask you to continue praying for me.”
As of Oct. 29, the papal Twitter accounts had a total of 10,070,848 followers. The most popular account is the Spanish-language one, with more than 4 million followers. The English-language account comes in second, with 3.1 million followers.
Papal Twitter accounts have also been established in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese and most recently, Polish.
In July, Pope Francis was named “the most influential world leader on Twitter” according to a global communications report by Switzerland-based public relation and communications firm Burson-Marsteller.
The report found that Pope Francis’ Spanish-language tweets were re-tweeted an average of 11,116 times. His English-language tweets were re-tweeted by an average of 8,219 followers.
His closest competitor by this measure was U.S. President Barack Obama, whose tweets were re-tweeted on average 2,309 times.
The Pope is also the second most-followed world leader on Twitter, after President Obama, who has 39 million followers.
The official “Pontifex” Twitter accounts were launched last December by Benedict XVI, who amassed 2.5 million followers during his first month and built a following of several million before his resignation at the end of February this year.
Pope Francis continued Benedict’s practice of sending short messages reflecting on Jesus and the Christian life after his March 13 election to the papacy. His tweets include prayers and short passages from his homilies.
Claire Diaz Ortiz, Manager of Social Innovation at Twitter, told CNA in January that the Pope’s ability to connect with his flock on Twitter “is an inspiring fact for believers everywhere.”
She described the multiple language accounts as “wonderful examples of how one leader can connect in many different languages with Twitter followers throughout the world.”
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio to lead the diocese of Hartford, Connecticut, following the retirement of the diocese's previous archbishop.
“With joy we welcome the news that Our Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Leonard P. Blair of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, to be the new Archbishop of Hartford,” outgoing Archbishop Henry J. Mansell said Oct. 29.
Bishop Blair, 64, will be replacing the 76-year-old Archbishop Mansell who has headed the Hartford diocese since 2003 until his recent application for resignation, having passed the age of retirement.
Born in Detroit in 1949, Bishop Blair was ordained to the priesthood in 1976 following the completion of his studies at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, as well as both the North American College and the Gregorian University in Rome.
He holds numerous degrees, including a Bachelor's degree in History, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology, a Licentiate in Theology with a specialization in Patristics and the History of Theology, as well as Doctorate in Theology.
In 2003, Bishop Blair was appointed by Bl. Pope John Paul II to lead the diocese of Toledo, Ohio, and has held the position for the last 10 years until his Oct. 29 appointment to Hartford.
Previous assignments of the bishop include his positions as ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Detroit, dean of studies and assistant professor of Theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary College, and service in the Papal Secretariat of State Office in Vatican City.
Other job assignments of Bishop Blair have included his role as the administrative secretary to the Archbishop of Detroit, vicar general and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit, instructor in Church history and patristics at St. John's Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, and archivist for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
“We welcome Archbishop-designate Blair with respect and appreciation for the distinguished record he has already accomplished,” Archbishop Mansell said in his statement, adding that the new leader will receive a warm reception from “the clergy, religious, and laypeople of the Archdiocese.”
Bishop Blair will be officially introduced as the new archbishop at an Oct. 29 press conference held in the Archdiocesan Center at Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut at 10 a.m. local time.
Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, which is headquartered in the archdiocese, welcomed Archbishop Blair.
"Throughout his time in Michigan, at the Vatican and most recently in Ohio, our Archbishop-designate has shown himself to be a quintessential pastor and shepherd," Anderson said.
"We thank Pope Francis for this outstanding appointment and stand ready to assist our new Archbishop in whatever ways we can. As our brother Knight for more than 19 years, we hope he will find in this appointment something of a homecoming."
Archbishop Blair's installation Mass will take place Monday, Dec. 16 at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph.
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During his daily Mass Pope Francis reflected on the virtue of hope, stressing that it is a gift which does not disappoint, and warning of the false attitudes that can appear to be the virtue.
“Where are anchored, each one of us? Are we anchored on the shore of the ocean so far or are we anchored in an artificial lagoon that we have made ourselves?” the Pope asked during his Oct. 29 homily.
The pontiff directed his reflections to those present in the chapel of the Saint Martha guesthouse of the Vatican.
Beginning his remarks, the Pope alluded to the words of Saint Paul from the first reading, where the apostle speaks specifically about the virtue of hope, emphasizing that hope never lets us down because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is a virtue that has a name, he noted, which is Christ, and that also creates a unique tension which directs us to the revelation of Jesus and to the joy that is eternal life.
Warning those present of common attitudes which often get mistaken as the virtue, the Pope said that “Hope is not optimism; it is not that ability to look at things with good cheer and move on. No, that is optimism, that is not hope.”
“Nor is hope a positive attitude in front of things. Those shiny, positive people,” he noted, stating that although this attitude is good, “it is not hope.”
“It is not easy to understand what hope is,” he reflected, emphasizing that out of the virtues of faith hope and love, hope is often said to be the most humble because it “hides itself in life.”
“One can see faith, one can feel it, one knows what it is. You do charity, one knows what it is. But what is hope? What is this attitude of hope?”
“To get a bit close to it,” the Pope said, “we can say firstly that hope is a risk, it is a risky virtue, it is a virtue – like Saint Paul says – 'of an ardent expectation towards the revelation of the Son of God.’ It is not an illusion.”
The pontiff then stressed that because Jesus renews all things, hope is a constant miracle, reflecting that this is “the miracle of what He’s doing in the Church; the miracle of making everything new: of what He does in my life, in your life, in our life.”
“He builds and He rebuilds. And that is precisely the reason of our hope.”
Pope Francis then questioned those in attendance about where they place their security, asking them “Are we anchored on the shore of the ocean so far or are we anchored in an artificial lagoon that we have made ourselves, with our rules, our behavior, our schedules, our clericalism, our ecclesiastical attitudes, non-ecclesiastical, huh?”
“Are we anchored there? Everything comfortable, everything secure, huh? That is not hope. Where is my heart anchored?”
The pontiff clarified that there is a difference between living in hope versus living simply as good Christians and no more, because “in hope we are saved.”
“Christ is the one who renews every wonderful thing of the Creation,” he reflected, “He's the reason of our hope. And this hope does not delude because He is faithful. He can't renounce Himself. This is the virtue of hope.”
Hope, Pope Francis explained, “changes our attitude: it is us, but it is not us, searching there, anchored there.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by turning to Mary, recalling her attitude after the death of her son until his resurrection three days later, saying that “Hope is what Mary, Mother of God, sheltered in her heart during the darkest time of her life: from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning.”
“That is hope: she had it. And that hope has renewed everything. May God grant us that grace.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 29, 2013 (CNA) - Mother Antonia Brenner, who married and divorced twice before converting to the Catholic faith and devoting herself to prison ministry for nearly 39 years in Tijuana, died Oct. 17 at the age of 86.
“Humanly speaking, this is an irreparable loss, but from the point of view of the mission that she had, I think we have won something,” Archbishop Rafael Romo Munoz of Tijuana said after receiving news of her death.
“She is a woman with the characteristics of a saint. I say that because I knew her and loved her a lot. I also received much affection from her. She has the traits of a saint, and that is why the Church has come out winning.”
Mother Brenner was born Mary Clarke and was the mother of eight and lived in Beverly Hills prior to her conversion, which was effected by a dream. Even before this, she had done volunteer work for the poor in both Mexico and California.
In 1969 she dreamt she was a prisoner at Calvary preparing to be executed. Suddenly, Jesus appeared and offered to die in her place, which she refused, saying she would never leave him no matter what happened to her.
After this dream, Mother Brenner decided to devote her life to the Church.
Despite initial difficulties due to her status as a divorcee, in 2003 she founded the order of the Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour, which was founded for older women who feel called to serve the poor.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1982 about her prison ministry, Mother Antonia said, “Something happened to me when I saw men behind bars. … when I left, I thought a lot about the men. When it was cold, I wondered if the men were warm; when it was raining, if they had shelter.”
“I wondered if they had medicine and how their families were doing. …when I returned to the prison to live, I felt as if I'd come home.”
Both for the guards and the inmates at La Mesa penitentiary, Mother Brenner was the prison angel. But behind bars she was known as “Mama.”
In her interview with the Times, Mother Antonia said the prisoners needed “to accept that they're wrong. They have to see the consequences. They have to feel the agony … but I do love them dearly.”
Mother Antonia and her Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour carried out their work from the Heart of Mary Home in Tijuana, where candidates for the congregation spend a period of discernment and formation before fully joining.
Passaic, NJ, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Father Kurt Burnette, rector of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Pittsburgh, was appointed Bishop of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Passaic, which serves nearly 15,000 Ruthenian Catholics, on Oct. 29.
Fr. Burnette will be enthroned at the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel in Passaic, NJ, on Dec. 4.
A native of Fakenham, England, Fr. Burnette, who is 57, grew up in Texas. He attended Rice University, and then received a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Utah. He began a career as a professor in 1978.
According to the Passaic eparchy, he was ordained a priest of the Eparchy of the Holy Protection of Mary of Phoenix on April 26, 1989. He continued to work as a professor at universities until 2004.
Fr. Burnette has served as pastor of parishes in California, Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico, and has served as a prison chaplain as well. From 1991 to 1994, he was economos and consultor of the Holy Protection of Mary of Phoenix eparchy.
He earned a licentiate in canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, and has served as a tribunal for his own eparchy, as well as the dioceses of Santa Fe, Gallup, and Phoenix.
Fr. Burnette was appointed rector of Pittsburgh's Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Oct., 2012.
The Passaic eparchy has 77 priests at 84 parishes, and serves Ruthenian Catholics along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. It will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its establishment Nov. 10 with Divine Liturgy at its cathedral.
The Ruthenian Catholic Church is and Eastern Catholic Church and so is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. Ruthenian Catholics use the Byzantine rite, and are led by the Ruthenian Archbishop of Pittsburgh.
The Passaic eparchy had been vacant since Jan., 2012, when its bishop, William Skurla, was appointed head of the Ruthenian Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.
The other appointments made by Pope Francis today are: Bishop Leonard Blair was appointed Archbishop of Hartford; Bishop Gabriel Abegunrin was appointed Archbishop of Ibadan, in Nigeria; and Fr. Aureo Bonilla Bonilla was appointed vicar apostolic of Galápagos, in Ecuador.
Austin, Texas, Oct 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A ban on abortions when an unborn baby can feel pain took effect in Texas today, one day after a federal judge blocked other new restrictions on abortion practices in the state.
“The American public understands the importance of this law. Pain-capable unborn children should be protected from the violent act of a dismemberment abortion,” Mary Spaulding Balch, National Right to Life’s director of state legislation, said Oct. 29. “Sadly, 40 states still allow it. We continue to work for a day when mothers and their children are fully protected and respected by our laws and our society.”
“Unborn children and their mothers deserve better than the violence of abortion,” she said.
The law bans abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy on the grounds that an unborn baby can feel pain at this point. Nine other states also bar late-term abortions on the basis of fetal pain.
The Texas state legislature passed the ban in July as one of several provisions in a bill restricting abortions.
On Oct. 28, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled against two other provisions of the law, but not the late-term abortion ban.
Yeakel said that a separate provision requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic was unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction against it. The judge said the provision creates a “substantial obstacle” and an “undue burden” for a woman seeking “an abortion of a nonviable fetus.” He said the provision was not rationally related to state interests in preserving and promoting fetal health and a woman’s health.
Judge Yeakel, a George W. Bush appointee, also issued a limited injunction against a provision of the law requiring that all abortions take place in surgical centers, a provision which would have ended the practice of giving women abortion drugs to take at home, the Washington Post reports.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office said the state immediately appealed the ruling.
The lawsuit has been filed by 11 abortion clinics and three abortion-performing doctors who said the provisions would end abortions in over 33 percent of the state’s licensed abortion facilities. They said the law would end abortions in Fort Worth and five other major cities.
Texas Right to Life said the bill provisions were intended to “protect women and life” and to “raise standards for abortion providers.” The organization charged that Judge Yeakel’s decision “further jeopardizes the health of abortion-vulnerable women.”
Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action, said the decision showed “contempt for women’s safety.”
“Pro-life organizations and independent concerned citizens have documented ambulance after ambulance shipping injured mothers from abortion facilities to hospitals,” she said Oct. 28. “This should be proof enough that these doctors are woefully unqualified to mend the horrors they regularly wreak on women. But furthermore, women across the country should ask themselves: ‘If my doctor can’t earn a hospital’s trust, do I really want him treating me?’”
Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis drew national attention to the law in June, when she held a filibuster opposing it for more than 10 hours at the close of the Texas legislature’s first special legislative session of the year.
The legislative session closed in controversy, with some abortion supporters in the legislature’s upstairs gallery disrupting the attempt to vote on the bill.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry subsequently called a second special session of the legislature to pass the abortion restrictions and other laws, amid displays of support from pro-life groups.
Commenting on the recent ruling, Balch observed that although opponents of the legislation had challenged “smaller pieces” of the new law, they never challenged the protections for “pain-capable children.”
“Even our opponents realize this legislation, and the extensive science behind it, is sound,” she said.