Denver, Colo., Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
One legacy of the life of Blessed Mother Teresa is that anyone can follow her example as a “missionary of charity,” said the postulator of her cause for canonization Father Brian Kolodiejchuk.
“Everyone has the mission to be a carrier of God's love, a missionary of charity,” the Canadian priest said at a recent presentation held at St. Joseph's church in Denver, Colorado.
“The highest thing to which we human beings aspire is, of course, love,” he added, explaining how Bl. Mother Teresa lived that aspiration.
Fr. Kolodiejchuk is a priest in the Missionaries of Charity and since 1999 has been the postulator for Mother Teresa’s cause for beatification and canonization. He also edited and provided commentary for a collection of her private letters. His appearance was sponsored by Christ in the City, a Denver-based outreach program that ministers to the poor and marginalized.
Mother was a “practical woman,” he reflected, and thus knew that love had to be expressed concretely. “Love is not merely a feeling, but is always expressed in very concrete, tangible action. Mother used to use the phrase 'love in living action.'”
“Which means love that was made very concrete, very practical,” Fr. Kolodiejchuk said.
This practicality was expressed in Mother’s “business card” that she handed out, which outlined the steps for love to take effect: “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace.”
Prayer, explained Fr. Kolodiejchuk, brings two graces, “a clean heart and a deepening of faith.” Thus like the Sixth Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God,” the prayerful will see God in others and be able to truly love them by serving them.
He added that Mother Teresa experienced a profound encounter with God as Father through prayer, and thus “having experienced God’s love, Mother Teresa’s entire life was an endeavor and an attempt to return love for love.”
She saw Jesus in others, expressed in a meditation she wrote from the hospital: “Jesus is the hungry to be fed; the thirsty to be satiated; the naked to be clothed; the homeless to be taken in; the sick to be healed; the lonely to be loved; the unwanted to be wanted; the leper to wash his wounds; the beggar to give him a smile; the little one to embrace him.”
However, people need not go to the slums of Calcutta to put love into practice, Fr. Kolodiejchuk added. “In fact, it is often those with whom we live who are most in need,” he stated.
The priest quoted Bl. Mother Teresa when she said: “How can we love Jesus in the world today? By loving Him in my husband, my wife, my children, my brothers and sisters, my parents, my neighbors, the poor.”
“People are hungry for the Word of God, for love,” Bl. Mother Teresa continued. “Do we really know our poor? Right here. Maybe the poor are in our own family, for love begins at home. Do we know them?”
Such “ordinary” acts of charity can become extraordinary if done with much love. Again, Fr. Kolodiejchuk quoted Mother Teresa, “Love is not measured by how much we do. Love is measured by how much love we put in it, how much it is hurting us in loving.” He added that thus, “Even the most trivial things become important if they are a means of expressing love.”
Fr. Kolodiejchuk recounted one time when he was asked by an interviewer if Mother Teresa was “happy.”
He replied that “She was one of the happiest people on earth, even though we know of her great suffering, especially her interior suffering.” This was because of her living the “law of the gift,” as St. Pope John Paul II wrote, of “being by giving oneself.”
“If we are focused on God and neighbor, focused outside of ourself, then the fruit of that is our fulfillment and happiness,” he said.
Santa Ana, Calif., Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A report released Tuesday by the non-profit Open Doors International places Nigeria at the top of a list of ten countries which are the worst violent persecutors of Christians.
“The alarming increase of violence against Christians in Nigeria over the past months highlights the lack of religious freedom they have and the daily dangers they face from the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and other violent Islamic organizations,” David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, stated June 3. “It is turning into a bloodbath.”
The organization's World Watch Top 10 Violence List was based on incidents of violent persecution counted between Nov. 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014. According to researchers, the numbers were very minimal and “could be significantly higher.”
Nigeria topped the number of faith-based killings of Christians, with 2,073 martyrdoms; Syria and Central African Republic followed, with 1,479 and 1,115 killings respectively.
The report estimated the average monthly number of Christian martyrdoms at 322 during the time period. 3,641 Christian properties and churches were destroyed, and 13,120 incidents of “other forms of violence” were reported; such incidents included beatings, abductions, rapes, and arrests.
Concerning Nigeria, the World Watch List stated that the terror group Boko Haram “continues to attack Christians on a large scale by burning down and bombing churches and Christian property, and assaulting and kidnapping Christian women and girls.”
Recently, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos called for a global effort to defeat the radical Islamist group, maintaining that it “is faithful to its target of eliminating and destroying Christianity from parts of the country.”
Last month alone, Boko Haram was blamed for two bombings which killed nearly 300 persons, and took credit for the April kidnapping of nearly 300 teenaged schoolgirls.
Syria ranked second on the Top 10 Violence List. Open Doors reported that Christians there are a “considerable minority,” caught in the midst of the country's more than three year civil war.
“Many churches are damaged or destroyed, in many cases deliberately,” the report stated, adding that Islamists among the rebels have committed such violence as the October, 2013 massacre of 45 citizens of the Christian village of Sadad, where victims were buried in mass graves.
Also near the top of the list were Egypt and Central African Republic. After the administration of Mohammed Morsi fell last summer, sectarian attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt rose to a level Amnesty International called “unprecedented,” culminating in attacks on 80 churches last August.
Meanwhile, Séléka rebels in Central African Republic have “deliberately targeted Christian villages, killed Christians and assaulted women and girls in the North in their quest to Islamize the country,” Open Doors reported.
The country ranked third on the list in anti-Christian killings, but the numbers are “most likely to be underreported” because of “limited access” to sources in parts of the country.
Colombia was featured on the Top 10 Violence List because organized corruption there targets Christians for such activities as political leadership, journalism, and advocacy for human, indigenous, and environmental rights.
“Their Christian conviction leads them to act in ways that threaten vested interests of criminal networks,” Open Doors stated.
The other countries featured on the list were Mexico, Pakistan, India, Kenya, and Iraq.
Open Doors listed “Islamic extremism” as the “major engine” of persecution in seven of the top ten countries, but added that “tribal antagonism and organized corruption” are other “main persecution engines.”
North Korea was omitted from the list “due to an inability to derive sufficiently accurate figures about the reasons for killing Christians in this most secretive society,” said Jan Vermeer, Open Doors' field worker in the country.
"When it comes to counting the numbers of Christians martyred, it is impossible to get an accurate number for North Korea,” he said, adding that “it is a fact that thousands of Christians are starved, abused and tortured in North Korean’s extensive prison system.”
Open Doors also produced a World Watch List of the 50 countries in which Christians are most persecuted. That list is topped by North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan; it differs from the Top 10 Violence List because it considers all forms of persecution, rather than solely violence.
Vatican analyst John Allen, whose book “The Global War on Christians” was published in 2013, told CNA last fall that “martyrdom is very much a feature of the contemporary Christian landscape” and that defending Christians against persecution “deserves to be the world’s number one human rights priority.”
His book reported that 100,000 Christians had been killed in the first decade of the 21st century, 11 new martyrs every hour.
Allen did blame radical forms of Islam for “a fair share of Christian suffering around the world,” but emphasized that other world religions and powers targeted Christians as well.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need also published a report on Christian persecution in 2013, title “Persecuted and Forgotten,” detailing how the situation for Christians is worsening in “20 of the 30 countries of greatest concern.” The report added that in most of those countries, Christians have seen a “severe decline” in their livelihood.
The organization’s director of evangelization and outreach told CNA recently that Christians face “many, many challenges” worldwide and that the global persecution “has increased over the last 10 to 15 years.”
Rome, Italy, Jun 6, 2014 (CNA) -
In an emotional finale decided by Italian TV viewers, 25 year-old Sister Cristina Scuccia won the 2014 edition of The Voice Italy on June 5.
The Ursuline Sister of the Holy Family captivated millions with her talent and charisma. Upon winning 62 percent of the final vote, she told the audience, “I want Jesus to enter into here,” and led the crowds in praying an Our Father.
“I wish to thank everyone, my sisters, all the people who have supported me at this moment,” Sister Cristina said when she was announced the winner. She explained that her presence on the program was not about herself, but about “the one who is above. My ultimate gratitude is to the one on high.”
Sister Cristina's mentor, J-Ax, said that the experience has been “incredible” and voiced hope that “this small change we have made together will allow you to go on. My advice, as I told you before, is that you can change things and be an important example out there.”
As was the case throughout the competition, Sister Cristina was accompanied during the finale by members of her community and her own family.
She performed several songs, including one by her mentor J-Ax, as well as “No One,” by Alicia Keys, the song she sang at the beginning of the show that garnered worldwide attention.
After she finished the Keys song, J-Ax said, “I think I can speak for everyone. This song has changed everyone's lives. It is a song that has caught the attention of everyone, even Alicia Keys.”
“To paraphrase Elvis, 50 million people can't be wrong,” he said in allusion to the 50 million views the video of the performance has received so far on YouTube.
Before taking part in the finale, Sister Cristina told the Italian daily La Stampa, “Tonight an incredible adventure that still surprises me is coming to an end.”
She hopes the attention that she has gained “will give young people the will and strength to follow their own dreams.”
“I don't deny that I felt somewhat uneasy when reporters asked me what it feels like to be in the spotlight as a religious. I always answer that when I discovered my vocation, I found myself in the arms of Jesus, and by singing I seek to express God's beauty.”
Regarding her future, Sister Cristina said she is leaving it in the hands of Providence. “If they send me overseas I will go. If they want me to keep singing I will do so with my kids at the oratory and I will do so with joy.”
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During Pope Francis' encounter with a Catholicos of the Apostolic Armenian Church, the pontiff commended him for his efforts in fostering Christian unity, and encouraged a growth in trust and hope.
“Your Holiness's commitment to the cause of Christian unity is known to all,” Pope Francis stated in his June 5 meeting with Catholicos Aram I of the Apostolic Armenian Church of Cilicia.
“You have been especially active in the World Council of Churches and you continue to be most supportive of the Middle East Council of Churches, which plays such an important role in assisting the Christian communities of that region as they face numerous difficulties.”
The Armenian Apostolic Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church. These Churches reject the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and have been considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.
During his remarks, Pope Francis drew attention to the Catholicos' “significant contribution” to the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Churches, saying he is “convinced” that the two “share the same hopes and a similar sense of responsibility” in their journey toward full communion.
“Trust and hope. How much these are needed! They are needed by our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, especially those living in areas racked by conflict and violence,” he observed.
Going on, the pontiff explained that even as Christians who do not suffer from conflict we need these virtues, because so often we “risk losing our way in the desert of indifference and forgetfulness of God, or living in conflict without brothers and sisters, or succumbing in our interior struggle against sin.”
“As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to learn humbly to bear one another’s burdens and to help each other to be better Christians, better followers of Jesus.”
Taking place in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater chapel, the prayer was arranged as part of Aram I's June 5 - 6 visit to Rome, during which he is also slated to meet with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and visit the tomb of Saint Peter.
Pope Francis' encounter with the Armenian Catholicos comes in wake of a meeting he had with the Armenian Patriarch Karekin II in the Vatican last month.
Fr. Gabriel Quicke, a member of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity who works specifically with the Oriental Churches and who played a key role in organizing both events, explained that Aram I’s visit with Pope Francis “is very significant.”
“All the patriarchs and the heads of churches want to visit the Holy Father, and the Armenian Apostolic Church has had in its history very good relations with the Catholic Church” he observed, stating that “At every stage of their history there is evidence of this good relationship.”
Describing the day’s schedule, Fr. Quicke explained that ahead of their prayer together, Pope Francis and Aram I had a private meeting, during which “the Catholicos expressed his thanks for the Holy Father for receiving him and for being able to express his solidarity.”
“The Holy Father answered by expressing his closeness in prayer and he could greet the group of faithful” he said, noting that the group of laypersons selected to participate in the event following their private remarks hailed from countries all over the world.
Following their speeches, the priest revealed that the two exchanged gifts before heading to the Redomptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace where they prayed together in each others’ languages.
“Some prayers were in Armenian, there were some hymns in Armenian, for the rest we spoke in English and in Italian,” Fr. Quicke recalled, noting that “at the end of the prayer, the Catholicos and the Holy Father gave the blessing.”
Observing how the atmosphere was very fraternal, he explained that the good relationship between Catholics and Armenians is particularly important given the painful past of the Arminian Church.
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire began a genocide against the Armenian people, in which some 1 million were killed.
“The Armenian people is a people in pilgrimage. They have suffered a lot, so the Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people” with a history marked by immigration and persecution and martyrdom.”
So it is significant, the priest explained that they still “continue their mission to be witnesses of the Risen Lord.”
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The migration of unaccompanied children into the U.S. is a “humanitarian crisis” that demands a “comprehensive response” from the government, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee.
“These children are extremely vulnerable to human traffickers and unscrupulous smugglers and must be protected,” said Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.
“Young lives are at stake,” he emphasized.
About 60,000 children from Mexico and Latin America are expected to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, CBS News reports. U.S. government statistics indicate that over 47,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border in the 2014 fiscal year, a 90 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
Bishop Elizondo said in a June 4 statement that child migration is “a very complicated problem” whose roots must be addressed both by the U.S. government and by governments in the region.
He said increasing violence from gangs and organized crime in the young migrants’ home countries must be examined.
“This is an issue which should not become politicized or give cause for negative rhetoric,” the bishop said.
Momentum behind immigration reform increased last year as a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators worked together to introduce legislation aimed at both providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and securing the U.S. border. In June 2013, the Senate approved the bill in a bipartisan 68-32 vote. However, it stalled in the House of Representatives amid sharp divisions within Republican lawmakers.
The U.S. bishops’ conference has laid out several goals for comprehensive immigration reform, including an “earned legalization program” with an “eventual path to citizenship” for those who pass background checks and pay a fine, along with “targeted, proportional, and humane” enforcement measures.
The conference has also called for a program to help low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the U.S. legally, as well as the restoration of due process protections for immigrants, an emphasis on family unification, and policy changes to address the deeper causes of immigration.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reiterated the call for immigration reform days before the bishops’ spring assembly begins in New Orleans.
“As pastors, we see the human consequences of this broken system each day in our parishes and social service programs, as families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and our fellow human beings risk everything to find a better life for themselves and the ones they love,” he said June 5.
“Our nation should no longer tolerate an unjust system.”
Archbishop Kurtz quoted Pope Francis’ words that migrants “do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”
He pledged support for Congress in reforming immigration law “in a manner that properly balances the protection of human rights with the rule of law.”
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis directed his daily homily today to his brother bishops and priests, telling them to always put love of God and their flock first, before pursuing a scholastic career.
“This is the question I ask myself, my brother bishops and priests: how is your love today, the love of Jesus? Is it like first love? Am I as in love today as on the first day?” the Pope asked in his June 6 homily.
Centering his reflections on the day’s Gospel passage from John in which Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” the Roman Pontiff asked those in attendance “How is your first love?” explaining that this question is not only for married couples, but also those consecrated in the Church.
Addressing his fellow priests and bishops, the Bishop of Rome asked whether they still love Jesus as much as they did when they first began their ministry, “Or do work and worries lead me to look at other things, and forget love a little?”
Observing how “There are arguments in marriage. That's normal,” the Pope explained that “when there is no love, there are no arguments: it breaks.”
“Do I argue, with the Lord? This is a sign of love. This question that Jesus asks of Peter brings him to first love. Never forget your first love. Never.”
In addition to constantly renewing one’s initial love for the Lord, Pope Francis noted that a priest must always remember in his dialogue with Jesus to be a shepherd before wanting to be “a scholar of philosophy or theology.”
A priest must always be a “shepherd” in same way the Jesus showed to Peter in saying “feed my sheep,” he said, and the rest will come later.
“Feed. With theology, philosophy, with petrology, with what you study, but feed. Be the shepherd. For the Lord has called us to this. And the bishop's hands on our head is to be shepherds,” the pontiff continued.
“This is a second question, is not it? The first is: ‘How is your first love?’ This, the second: ‘Am I a shepherd, or an employee of this NGO that is called the Church?’ There is a difference. Am I a shepherd?”
Going on, the Pope explained that this is “A question that I have to ask myself; that bishops need to ask, even priests: all of us. Feed. Lead. Go forward.”
He then went on to explain that there is not majesty or glory in being a priest, saying “No, brother. You will end up in the most common, even humiliating circumstances: in bed, having to be fed, dressed...useless, sick.”
“To end up like Him,” like Jesus, is the destiny of a priest, the Roman Pontiff observed, adding that this is a love which dies “as the seed of wheat that will bear fruit. But I will not see it.”
Drawing attention to what he described as the “strongest word” Jesus spoke in the Gospel, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of listening to his command “Follow me!”
Even “if we have lost the way or do not know how to respond to love, we do not know how to respond to being pastors, we do not know how to respond or we do not have the certainty that the Lord will not abandon us even in the worst moments of life, in sickness,” he continued.
“He says, ‘Follow me.’ This is our certainty. In the footsteps of Jesus. On that path. ‘Follow me.’”
Concluding his homily, the pontiff asked that the Lord give all priests and bishops “the grace to always find or remember our first love, to be pastors, not to be ashamed of ending up humiliated on a bed or even losing our faculties.”
“And that He always give us the grace to follow Jesus, in the footsteps of Jesus: the grace to follow Him.”
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican has released the details for Sunday’s prayer between Pope Francis and the Israeli and Palestinian presidents, stating that although peace will not be immediate, it’s a starting point.
“The intent of this encounter is to open the road to peace,” Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa O.F.M., Guardian of the Holy Land, revealed to journalists in a June 6 press conference, telling CNA that “My hope is that this event will help to bring a new atmosphere in the Middle East.”
Speaking to other journalists, he explained that “the goal is not to change dramatically the peace process in the Middle East, but to bring back in the atmosphere among the people in the Middle East the desire, the real desire for peace.”
Detailing the itinerary for the prayer, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. stated that Presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine will arrive to the Vatican within a few minutes of each other, and will meet Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartolomeo I of Constantinople at the pontiff’s residence in the Saint Martha guesthouse.
Afterward the four will travel together by car to the Vatican Gardens, where a brief explanation of the celebration will be given in English.
The prayer, the spokesman noted, will be divided into three parts following the chronological order of the three faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Beginning around 7 p.m., the first part of the prayer will be recited in Hebrew, honoring the Jewish faith. It will include an initial prayer, a brief musical interlude, a prayer of forgiveness, a second musical interlude, a prayer invoking peace, and finally a Jewish musical meditation.
The second part of the prayer, dedicated to Christianity, will follow the same structure, and will be recited in English, Italian and Arabic. The third part, honoring the Muslim community, will only be said in Arabic.
Following the three parts of the prayer, Pope Francis will give a discourse invoking peace, and then invite the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to give their own, beginning with Shimon Peres, who will be followed by Mahmoud Abbas.
After giving the speeches, the Pope and the presidents, along with Patriarch Bartolomeo I, will exchange a sign of peace in shaking hands. Pope Francis and the two presidents will then plant an olive tree together as a symbol of peace.
Concluding the celebration, the four will stand side-by-side as the delegations of each come to greet them, and will then travel to the Casina Pio IV nearby for a private discussion, after which the presidents will depart for their own residences, while the Pope and Bartolomeo I go to Saint Martha’s.
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2014 (National Catholic Register) -
Men and women across the United States and Europe commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the events of that fateful day, June 6, 1944, which launched the major turning point in World War II.
Tens of thousands of Allied forces in "Operation Overlord" landed on the beaches of Normandy, France — earning those who took part in the battle there or those on the home front the title of "The Greatest Generation."
D-Day serves as a powerful reminder of why faith on the battlefield is a spiritual fortress.
More than 156,000 soldiers took part in the Normandy landings. Among them were the chaplains who landed or parachuted with their men, including Father Francis Sampson, who is known as the "Parachute Padre."
Part of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, he was among the 15,500 soldiers who jumped behind enemy lines.
"Probably no chaplain, Catholic or otherwise, saw more of the horrors of the hedgerow campaign than Francis Sampson," related Fr. Donald Crosby, S.J., in his book Battlefield Chaplains: Catholic Priests in World War II.
Fr. Sampson quickly tended both spiritually and physically to the wounded and dying before medics showed up, but German SS troops captured him and marched him down the road to execute him, as Fr. Crosby and Lawrence Grayson recounted in a website article called "A Padre in Jump Boots."
Later, Fr. Sampson would say he was so nervous that he kept repeating the traditional Catholic grace before meals instead of the Act of Contrition. The Germans put him against a wall and raised their guns to shoot him — but then a German officer fired over their heads to stop them.
When Fr. Sampson identified himself as a Catholic priest, the officer saluted, made a slight bow and showed him a Catholic medal pinned inside his uniform. The officer also insisted that Fr. Sampson see pictures of his young child.
"The German officer, who had clearly saved his life, promised him that a German doctor would come by in a day or two and tend to the wounds of the American soldiers," according to Fr. Crosby.
Through this indirect act, Fr. Sampson saved the American soldiers. He also gave his own blood in a transfusion to a wounded soldier; then he continued working without rest. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism at Normandy.
Fr. Joseph Lacy was awarded the same honor for his role on Omaha Beach that day: his "extraordinary heroism in action" was noticed. Fr. Lacy was a lieutenant with the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion, which was one of the first groups ashore in the immediate carnage of assault. "Disregarding his own safety," he "assisted wounded men from the water’s edge," gave last rites and tended to those in need, all while in the line of enemy fire. He "inspired the men to a similar disregard for the enemy fire."
That day, the Rangers suffered approximately 50% casualties, but against horrendous odds, they penetrated the enemy’s lines.
"The Chaplain Corps, per capita, was the most highly decorated of all the branches of the Army," observed Lyle Dorsett, reflecting on the D-Day anniversary. He wrote Serving God and Country: United States Military Chaplains in World War II and is a professor at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. "It means you’ve got guys on the front, giving and risking their lives so that others can be ministered to."
Looking at these events of D-Day and beyond, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services said, "Certainly, Catholic priests bring the consolation of the sacraments. They stayed with the men on the field and were a great source of encouragement and hope."
Archbishop Broglio said that on D-Day, Fr. Ignatius Maternowski, a Franciscan, was the only chaplain killed during the invasion. The 32-year-old friar parachuted in with the 82nd Airborne.
Dorsett recalled descriptions of the priest that he heard from those who served with him. "One man said he was a tough, energetic Pole, and he was extremely liked by the men of his regiment," he told the Register. "He was a man’s man. Chaplains didn’t have to get into the front lines, where there was combat, but these guys refused to stay back. They would go up to the front."
He "didn’t find it amusing when men were telling filthy jokes, speaking crudely or taking the Lord’s name in vain. More than one time, he would say, ‘Put on boxing gloves’ to anyone who made remarks about the Church or confession."
Today, there is a memorial in the village of Gueutteville, near where Fr. Maternowski was shot by a Nazi sniper.
"When Fr. Maternowski was fatally shot at Picauville, he was attempting to negotiate with the Nazis to set up a field hospital for both Allied and German wounded soldiers," Archbishop Broglio said. "He walked into enemy territory, without a gun or helmet, in a brave effort to help the hurt and dying. He died courageously, living out the words of our Savior, putting his life on the line to help others."
A Veteran Remembers
Bravery and faith marked many of "The Greatest Generation" that day.
Today at 90, Roy Herter of Lantana, Fla., remembers all of the details of that D-Day as if happened yesterday. Back then, he was a 20-year-old with the Big Red One’s First Infantry Division.
"I had a very short career," he recalled with a chuckle. "I went in the first wave on Omaha Beach."
"Our job was to silence the big guns firing at the battleships. When we were going in the landing boats and we were halfway in, fellas were saying, ‘This is easy compared to other landings we made.’ Then all hell broke loose. It was the worst and bloodiest battle of any on Omaha Beach."
Herter continued, without pausing: "We were dumped into deep water, and we were loaded with ammunition and guns. We lost an awful lot of men in the water.
"When we did get in there, we were pinned down, and Rommel (the German commander) had every advantage to push us back into the water. We realized they were cleaning off the beach with every line of soldiers ... We really didn’t know whether we were going to get off the beach or not," he said. There was barbed water, railroad ties and other obstacles. The remaining men had to charge up a long slope, with only a little ledge to hide behind.
"There was a huge gun emplacement with walls 15 feet — not inches — thick. Our grenades only hit screens and bounced back. We realized we still had a couple of bazookas and smaller flamethrowers, and we shot to the front of their guns. It went right into the window next to the gun and knocked out the whole pillbox."
After they silenced the gun emplacement, they entered the beach’s biggest minefield.
"I was the first man off of the beach into the minefield," Herter continued. "I stepped on a mine, and it took off my left leg, and shrapnel hit the right [leg]. There was no help at all. It took seven hours before the medics could get off the beach. The only thing I could do was take my belt and tie my left leg, so I didn’t bleed to death."
"I was sitting in the middle of that beach for seven hours, on this hill, right after we took the gun out, and I had a perfect view of the entire invasion," he remembered.
Herter said he was put on the second plane evacuating wounded from England to the United States. He refers to his survival and that of his comrades as "blessings of the good God." In every case, "all you could do was to pray, waiting and wondering for the next step," he said. "I give God credit for all of this."
Faith on the Front Lines
As the Normandy campaign continued past D-Day, days later, Fr. Philip Edelen died from artillery fire as he ministered to a fallen soldier, and shortly after, Fr. Dominic Ternan, a Franciscan, died while kneeling next to a wounded soldier during a raging battle. He was awarded the Silver Star.
Dorsett said that his book "is replete with chaplains in foxholes with the men and rescuing guys in battles with fire flying all over and around them."
Indeed, by war’s end, Marine Commandant Alexander Vandegrift observed that he "frequently noted in the field how chaplains — to a man — sought out front-line action. And I assume that was because, as one put it, at the time: ‘There is where the fighting man needs God most — and that’s where some of them know him for the first time.’"
D-Day, as well as "all war, is a time of men and women asking fundamental questions," reflected Archbishop Broglio. "They find faith offers themselves some answers."
He remembered the story of an 18-year-old who was part of the Normandy invasion and was later ordained. His initial experience as a soldier in that invasion led to his vocational decision.
He was referring to the late Msgr. Charles Elmer, who was with the 430th Anti-Aircraft Battalion of the Second Armored division that landed on Omaha Beach and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He studied in Rome and later became spiritual director for the North American College at two separate times; in between, he served as a spiritual director and seminary rector in two Texas dioceses.
‘Spiritual Power Wins Wars’
Fr. Sampson was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and remained a POW until the end of the war, saying Mass for his fellow prisoners of war and helping those who were sick. He served as the U.S. Army’s chief of chaplains from 1967 to 1971. The movie Saving Private Ryan was based on one of Fr. Sampson’s missions.
Dorsett related how, when World War II ended, Gen. Vandegrift told Army and Navy chaplains that the long battle from 1941 to 1945, with all the horrid casualties and carnage, could never have been sustained if it hadn’t been for two groups of men — the chaplains and the medics.
And Dorsett also cited the comment of Gen. William Arnold, chief of staff of the Army during World War II. Observed Arnold: "Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars."
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In a letter sent Friday to French bishops, Pope Francis paid homage to the men who fought in the D-Day invasion of Normandy 70 years ago, which was one of the key turning points in World War II.
“His Holiness Pope Francis unites himself wholeheartedly to the intercession of those who commemorate the tragic events which occurred here seventy years ago, and prays for peace,” read the letter sent June 6 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, to Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger of Bayeux (-Lisieux), in whose territory the Normandy landing occurred.
On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation. As many as 13,000 soldiers died that day.
The Pope's message commended the sacrifice of those who “left their homeland to land on the beaches of Normandy, with the aim of combating Nazi barbarity, freeing occupied France,” and also urged that we “not forget the German soldiers driven into this drama, like all victims of this war.”
“It is fitting that today's generations express their full appreciation to those who accepted such a great sacrifice.”
By the message, which was sent also to Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, Pope Francis took the opportunity to encourage Europe to remember and appreciate its Christian roots.
He wrote that “this commemoration reminds us that the exclusion of God from the lives of persons and societies can bring only death and suffering.”
“The European nations can find in the Gospel of Christ, the prince of peace, the root of their history, and the source of inspiration for the establishment of ever more links of fraternity and solidarity.”
The message concluded by entrusting the cause of peace to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Dublin, Ireland, Jun 6, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Amid disputed reports concerning the burials of nearly 800 children at a Catholic unwed mother home in Ireland over a 36-year period in the mid-20th century, the local archbishop has said he is “horrified” and welcomes a government investigation.
“I was greatly shocked, as we all were, to learn of the extent of the numbers of children buried in the grave-yard in Tuam,” Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said June 4.
“I am horrified and saddened to hear of the large number of deceased children involved and this points to a time of great suffering and pain for the little ones and their mothers.”
“Regardless of the time lapse involved this is a matter of great public concern which ought to be acted upon urgently.”
A local historian, Catherine Corless, researched the burial sites of 796 babies and young children who died at the St. Mary’s home for unwed mothers during its years of operation from 1925 to 1961 – a death rate of about 23 children per year. The home was operated by the Bons Secours Sisters.
Government inspection reports at the time the home was in operation found problems and health issues. One 1944 report said some of the children at the home were “fragile, pot-bellied and emaciated,” Agence France Presse reports.
Children ranging in age from newborns to eight-year-olds died from malnutrition and infectious diseases including measles and tuberculosis, the records show.
Corless said that a former septic tank near the home served as a mass grave. Local children reportedly found skeletal remains at this grave in the 1970s but the site was not examined again.
However, Sgt. Brian Whelan with the press office of Ireland’s national police said that the remains were found in a graveyard at the ground of the home, not in a septic tank, CNN reports. Whelan said there was no evidence of improper actions and police are not investigating.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the government is considering how to respond to the reports.
Archbishop Neary welcomed the announcement. He said the archdiocese will continue to work with the Bon Secours Sisters and the local community to commemorate the dead and their families with a memorial prayer service and a plaque.
“It will be a priority for me, in cooperation with the families of the deceased, to seek to obtain a dignified re-interment of the remains of the children in consecrated ground in Tuam,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Neary said the archdiocese “did not have any involvement in the running of the home” and has no material relating to it in its archives. He said that it is his understanding that the Bon Secours Sisters handed the material to the Galway County Council and to health authorities in 1961.
“While the Archdiocese of Tuam will cooperate fully nonetheless there exists a clear moral imperative on the Bon Secours Sisters in this case to act upon their responsibilities in the interests of the common good,” he said.
“May the Lord’s infinite mercy console all who have suffered and bring healing to their loved ones.”
CNA contacted the Sisters of Bon Secours International for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.