October 31, 2014
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Was the last 'witch' of Boston actually a Catholic martyr?

Boston, Mass., October 31 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The last person hanged for witchcraft in Boston could be considered a Catholic martyr.


Was the last 'witch' of Boston actually a Catholic martyr?
Want to bolster families? Return to Gospel concepts of freedom, fidelity
Rethinking her death, Brittany Maynard praised for seeing life's value
How one cardinal proposes to correct ignorance of marriage's nature


Vatican astronomer yawns at frenzy over Pope's Big Bang words

Asia - Pacific

March of Saints aims to catechize Filipino children about heaven


Was the last 'witch' of Boston actually a Catholic martyr?

BOSTON, MASS., October 31 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The last person hanged for witchcraft in Boston could be considered a Catholic martyr.

In the 1650s, Ann Glover and her family, along with some 50,000 other native Irish people, were enslaved by Englishman Oliver Cromwell during the occupation of Ireland and shipped to the island of Barbados, where they were sold as indentured servants.

What is known of her history is sporadic at best, though she was definitely Irish and definitely Catholic. According to an article in the Boston Globe, even Ann's real name remains a mystery, as indentured servants were often forced to take the names of their masters.

While in Barbados, Ann's husband was reportedly killed for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith. By 1680, Ann and her daughter had moved to Boston where Ann worked as a “goodwife” (a housekeeper and nanny) for the John Goodwin family.

Father Robert O'Grady, director of the Boston Catholic Directory for the Archdiocese of Boston, said that after working for the Goodwins for a few years, Ann Glover became sick, and the illness spread to four of the five Goodwin children.

“She was, unsurprisingly, not well-educated, and in working with the family, apparently she got sick at some point and the kids for whom she was primarily responsible caught whatever it was,” Fr. O'Grady told CNA.

A doctor allegedly concluded that “nothing but a hellish Witchcraft could be the origin of these maladies,” and one of the daughters confirmed the claim, saying she fell ill after an argument with Ann.  

The infamous Reverend Cotton Mather, a Harvard graduate and one of the main perpetrators of witch trial hysteria at the time, insisted Ann Glover was a witch and brought her to what would be the last witch trial in Boston in 1688.

In the courtroom, Ann refused to speak English and instead answered questions in her native Irish Gaelic. In order to prove she was not a witch, Mather asked Ann to recite the Our Father, which she did, in a mix of Irish Gaelic and Latin because of her lack of education.

“Cotton Mather would have recognized some of it, because of course that would have been part of your studies in those days, you studied classical languages when you were preparing to be a minister, especially Latin and Greek,” Father O'Grady said.

“But because it was kind of mixed in with Irish Gaelic, it was then considered proof that she was possessed because she was mangling the Latin.”

Allegedly, Boston merchant Robert Calef, who knew Ann when she was alive, said she “was a despised, crazy, poor old woman, an Irish Catholic who was tried for afflicting the Goodwin children. Her behavior at her trial was like that of one distracted. They did her cruel. The proof against her was wholly deficient. The jury brought her guilty. She was hung. She died a Catholic."

Mather convicted Ann of being an “idolatrous Roman Catholick” and a witch, and she hung on Boston Common on November 16, 1688. Today, just a 15 minute walk away, the parish of Our Lady of Victories holds a plaque commemorating her martyrdom, which reads:

“Not far from here on 16 November 1688, Goodwife Ann Glover an elderly Irish widow, was hanged as a witch because she had refused to renounce her Catholic faith. Having been deported from her native Ireland to the Barbados with her husband, who died there because of his own loyalty to the Catholic faith, she came to Boston where she was living for at least six years before she was unjustly condemned to death. This memorial is erected to commemorate “Goody” Glover as the first Catholic martyr in Massachusetts.”

The plaque was placed at the Church on the tercentennial anniversary of her death in 1988 by the Order of Alhambra, a Catholic fraternity whose mission includes commemorating Catholic historical persons, places and events. The Boston City Council also declared November 16 as “Goody Glover Day”, in order to condemn the injustice brought against her.  

Ann Glover has not yet been officially declared a martyr by a pope, nor has her cause for canonization been opened to date, partly because her story has faded into obscurity over time, Fr. O’Grady said.

“Part of the dilemma here (too) is that when she was hanged, Catholics were a tiny, minuscule, minority in Boston, so picking up her ‘cause’ was not easy or ‘on top of the list,’” he said.

Ann Glover's trial also set the tone for the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692, during which 19 men and women were hanged for witchcraft, and in which Reverend Cotton Mather and his anti-Catholic prejudices played a major role.

Want to bolster families? Return to Gospel concepts of freedom, fidelity

WASHINGTON D.C., October 31 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The Church must work to strengthen the family by helping couples practice Christian concepts of virtues if it wishes to “open wide the doors to Christ” in the vision of St. John Paul II, the head of the Knights of Columbus said on Wednesday.

“We have often heard that the family is at the center of the New Evangelization. This means that there must be greater pastoral care and formation of families at the parish level. We must pray that this will be one of the fruits of the recent Synod on the Family and of the upcoming World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said Oct. 29 at the Catholic Information Center’s New Evangelization Award Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Anderson and his wife Dorian were recipients of the Saint John Paul II Award for the New Evangelization, given to “those who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to proclaiming Christ to all peoples.”  

The Andersons were appointed by Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2007, and they are both members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

The family is at the heart of the New Evangelization, but many Catholic marriages are ending in divorce, Anderson noted.

“There are many, many families today that will end in divorce because they will not survive the pressures of contemporary society unless they receive help,” he insisted.

Anderson explained to CNA after the dinner that the Church should emphasize the sacrificial, Christ-like nature of marriage since the institution has been secularized.

“We’re in such a secularized society and culture that we really need greater formation of what it means to be a disciple of Christ in marriage. And how, if in marriage, we’re called to sort of testify to God’s love – how do we do that every day with our spouse?”

He continued, “I think again it goes back to the pervasiveness of secularism, where many concepts have become secularized. So our concept of freedom, our concept of faithfulness, our concept of love … we have to say wait a minute, take a step back. What is the Gospel understanding of fidelity of love? Of mutuality? Of self-gift?”

“If marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church, sacrificial love, then what does that mean in terms of forgiveness, reconciliation? Those are big issues. And I’m not sure that it’s thought through enough,” he said.

Formation in the virtues should begin earlier in a child’s life, he continued, as a remote preparation for their vocation, be that marriage or priesthood or religious or consecrated life.

“I think we need to admit – or realize maybe is the better word – that our formation needs to begin much earlier. That given what’s happened with the internet culture, by the time our children get to be 12, 14 years of age, they’re much more experienced, sadly, in a lot of these problems, than maybe 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Anderson said.

“I think there’s so many young saints, they had vocations at a very young age. And so we shouldn’t begin waiting until 20, 22, 24, to begin speaking of your vocation. Maybe we should speak to 10 year-olds about their vocation,” he concluded.

Rethinking her death, Brittany Maynard praised for seeing life's value

DENVER, COLO., October 30 (CNA/EWTN News) .- As a 29 year-old woman with terminal brain cancer reconsiders her resolve to end her life, one scholar says the change of heart indicates a more mature level of thinking.

“That’s advanced thinking, that’s higher order thinking – when you can let go of the trappings of this world and realize there is something else,” reflected Dr. Julie Masters, chairman of the Department of Gerontology at the University of Nebraska.

She told CNA Oct. 30 that Brittany Maynard’s reconsideration is an “interesting development.”

“I think reading some of the things she has said about this idea that she is there with her family and seeing the value of that offers people another perspective on end-of-life care, and what that means,” Masters said.

After being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Maynard announced earlier this month that was planning to end her life Nov. 1. She and her husband moved to Oregon, one of just a few states that allows physician-assisted suicide.

But in a new video, posted Oct. 29, Maynard said she is reconsidering.

“I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” she stated, adding that the time to take her life will likely come eventually.

Although Maynard did say that her health has been declining, she also stated in the video that “the worst thing that could happen to me is I wait too long because I am trying to seize each day and I lose my autonomy.”

Dr. Masters, who teaches a class on “Death and Dying,” reflected on this vantage point of choice and autonomy, saying it is a common factor when considering end-of-life choices.

“The number one reason why people choose physician-assisted suicide is because of autonomy. They want to maintain their autonomy, their right to choose,” Masters stated.

However, she questioned whether physician-assisted suicide is truly a choice or an expectation.

“We look at physician assisted suicide, and it is a choice in the sense that it is available in five states, that’s reality,” she said. “But the question becomes then, is that an option for people, or does it become an expectation?”

She suggested that the increasing number of physician-assisted suicides can impose an expectation to end one’s life when it is no longer seen to have value.

While noting that she does not know Maynard and cannot speak for her exclusively, Masters said she suspects that the young woman has been given a reason to pause and think about her life.

“That’s important,” Masters said. “It sure sounds like to be able to take a trip with her family and to be surrounded by her family, she is getting a glimpse of a quality of life she hadn’t anticipated.”

Referring to a Fox News piece on the situation, Masters suggested that Maynard is acknowledging the important things in life, adding to the joy that she is still experiencing amidst the suffering in her daily life. This indicates more advanced thinking, she said.

Acknowledging that it is hard to watch someone suffer and die, Masters believes that “we could give a little more attention to relieving suffering.”

While firmly stating a belief that there can be value in suffering, she also noted the importance of comforting and relieving suffering, which can also help alleviate the fear that can accompany the thought of death.

“It’s about fear,” she said, explaining that “people are afraid because they have examples in their mind of other people who have died a hard death.”

Reacting to end-of-life choices out of fear is common, Masters noted, stressing that the pain and symptoms of a terminal illness should not be controlled by this fear, but met with support, care, and comfort.

“That’s where we could do such a better job of communicating options to people. Brittany has not only advanced the movement of Compassion & Choices, but she has also advanced the movement of questioning the value of hospice and palliative care, and the value of life.”

“Death can be a gift, and it can be approached in a comforting way,” Masters said, noting the critical importance of hospice and palliative care for people near death.

When people lose sight, she continued, “they get this tunnel vision, and they only see one option, and that’s suicide.”

“For Brittany, it seemed for awhile as if she thought there was only one option, but now she sees there are other options and maybe she is being open and considering the other options,” Masters suggested.

Acknowledging that Maynard’s story is prompting people to talk about end-of-life issues, Masters said she hopes this will be an opportunity for people to reflect on life and engage in dialogue in order to process what end-of-life decisions really mean.

“This is an opportunity for people to think,” she explained.

How one cardinal proposes to correct ignorance of marriage's nature

WASHINGTON D.C., October 30 (CNA/EWTN News) .- According to the Archbishop of Washington, the recent Synod on the Family worked to address the challenge that many young people today don’t fully understand the nature of marriage.

“There were a good number of us within the synod who felt, given the heavily secular climate today in which so many of our young people are living – what they see in media, television, electronic print, in movies, the music they listen to, the world they’re engaged in – (that) the idea of a permanent, enduring bond that would be life-giving and at the same time be indissoluble is not uppermost in their awareness of marriage,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl asserted in an Oct. 30 conference call.

Cardinal Wuerl was speaking about the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which was held in anticipation of next year's World Meeting of Families and the ordinary Synod on the Family. After the 2015 synod, Pope Francis is expected to issue an apostolic exhortation.

In his analysis of the synod, Cardinal Wuerl specifically discussed two negative outcomes of confusion about the nature of marriage: cohabitation, and the failure of some marriages.  

“One of the increasing concerns is the number of people who aren’t even getting married today: the number of people who are simply living together without benefits of even civil marriage. And that says, to me, we have a long way to go in helping present as clearly as we can the beautiful gift that is marriage,” Cardinal Wuerl stated.

Another area of concern among synod fathers was the process of marriage annulment.

“The fact that there are Catholic couples and people who have re-married, and therefore can’t come to Communion, the fact that they would desperately like to do so, and the Church recognizes the good of that; the question is, 'how do we do that while being faithful to the teaching of the Church concerning the bond?' That brings us to the question of an annulment, the declaration that there never was a bond in the first place,” Cardinal Wuerl commented.

It was in reference to this that he suggested that “so many of our young people” might not have a correct understanding of marriage, to the extent that they cannot validly contract a marriage.

“Having said all that,” he continued, “there were many, many of us who felt (that) if we’re going to go the route of annulment, then that process can’t be so costly or so burdensome that it becomes a weight around the shoulders of the people trying to regularize their situation.”

Cardinal Wuerl added that “there were a number of suggestions on how to do that,” and that “that’s probably going to be an area that there’ll be a lot of discussion (about) between now and the next synod.”

One way to address the widespread confusion about the nature of marriage would be to properly catechize children and teenagers about the faith, the cardinal continued, beginning in Catholic schools.

Regarding a term that received much attention in the synod’s mid-term report – causing media speculation and confusion – the principle of “graduality” was nowhere to be found in the final document, Cardinal Wuerl confirmed.

“The whole concept of 'graduality' – that surfaced but you don’t find it in the final document,” he said.

“And I think one of the reasons for that is it’s a theological concept. It’s not a concept that you find well-expounded, well-defined, well-developed. And so if there’s going to be any reference to that in the future, I think it’s going to require a lot more thought and a lot more theological penetration." "That doesn’t mean it won’t come back up again, but my thought is that ... it needs a lot more thought and a lot more theological development."


Vatican astronomer yawns at frenzy over Pope's Big Bang words

ROME, ITALY, October 30 (Aid to the Church in Need) .- A leading Vatican astronomer said that although some see Pope Francis' recent words on the Big Bang as signifying a change in the Church's stance on the issue, the pontiff in fact said nothing new.

“It is important to emphasize that Pope Francis was not saying anything new or 'breaking with tradition' as I saw one commentator put it,” Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. told CNA  Oct. 29.

Br. Consolmagno is an American research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory, which is an astronomical research and educational institution supported by the Holy See.

Storms of media reports initially arose following a speech Pope Francis gave at the unveiling of a bust of retired pontiff Benedict XVI for the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday.

In his speech, Pope Francis said that “The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it.”

He also touched on evolution, saying that the “evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

Due to the explosion of headlines on the web saying that the Pope had officially endorsed a change in the Church’s position on these two theories, Br. Consolmagno said that it's important remember that both theories came as a result of the work of a Catholic priest and a Catholic monk.

“The genetic basis of modern evolutionary theory is based on the work of Gregor Mendel, a Catholic monk; and the modern Big Bang theory was first proposed by Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic priest,” he said.

Br. Consolmagno explained that the theological basis for these theories can also be found in scripture, and cited St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians as one biblical source.

What Pope Francis said, he noted, is “completely consistent” with what numerous other popes in recent history have said, including St. John Paul II in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences entitled “Truth Does Not Contradict Truth” and his 1988 Letter to Director of the Vatican Observatory on Science and Religion.

Pope Pius XII also spoke about these theories in his 1952 address to the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union.

An important thing to keep in mind surrounding these topics is that “The Church does not take ‘positions’ on matters of science,” the astronomer observed.

Therefore, “science is left free to propose explanations and descriptions of the working of the natural world, knowing that none of these descriptions are the final word and that all of them are based on the assumption of a rational universe whose very existence depends on the creative action of God.”

Confusion over Pope Francis' words also arose when he said that “When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a wand able to make everything.”

After this statement the pontiff said that God allowed creation and created beings to develop throughout history according to the internal laws which God gave them at the beginning of creation, and because of this “God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.”

In response to those who took the Pope's words as meaning that God is not divine, Br. Consolmagno explained that all the pontiff said was that the Christian notion of God is not the same as other, pagan understandings of the divine being.

He referred to Pope's use of the term “demiurge,” which comes from a gnostic tradition, and has been considered a heresy since ancient Roman times.

“This was the idea that God was some sort of 'artisan' who formed the universe out of pre-existing materials,” he said, which is basically the same notion as the pagan nature gods who were thought to oversee the activities of nature.

In light of this understanding, the astronomer said that what the Pope was most likely implying is that the Christian concept of God is “not a 'nature God'” like that of the pagans.

Catholics, he continued, “embrace the idea of natural laws to explain how nature works – science – precisely because we do not confuse the actions of those laws with the actions of God.”

God is the reason why the universe exists, time and space included, and why it has laws, the religious brother observed, saying that science merely seeks to describe how these laws function.

Helpful resources for understanding these theories, he said, can be found in the Vatican Observatory's 2009 book “The Heavens Proclaim, Astronomy and the Vatican” as well as the recent “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?” which is authored by both himself and physicist Father Paul Mueller.

Asia - Pacific

March of Saints aims to catechize Filipino children about heaven

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, October 30 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Families in Manila are gearing up to march in a colorful Oct. 31 parade dressed as their favorite saints, to evangelize and to catechize on heaven and the communion of the saints.

According to Chita Monfort, executive director for Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls, “the March of Saints primarily is a Christ-centered way of celebrating Halloween, and an avenue of catechizing the kids at an early age, and families, about the lives of the saints.”

“The idea is to create a counter-culture and to bring back the sacredness of the celebration of the vigil of All Saints' Day,” Monfort told CNA Oct. 27.

Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Prelate of Infanta, will say Mass at 3 pm on Oct. 31 at the Manila cathedral, which will be followed by a procession of hundreds of children and their parents dressed as saints and angels. The procession will include snacks, candies, and a drum and bugle corps.

“We are responding to the call of new evangelization and brief inspiring summaries on the lives of saints will also be distributed in encouraging living life of sanctity and holiness.”

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan praised the event, saying that “there is a growing concern among Christians in general that the modern observance of the eve of All Saints' Day has become a secular celebration that trivializes and even glamorizes occult and pagan practices and beliefs that are incompatible with the Christian faith and the true meaning of All Saints' Day.”

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, said of the March of Saints: “I am convinced that this will further catechize our sisters and brothers on the tenets of our faith, particularly on the importance of praying for the souls in purgatory.”

Leodigario Rivera De Guzman designed a logo for the march, showing a boy dressed as St. Paul leading a group of children dressed colorfully as fellow saints. The figure of St. Paul was chosen, Guzman said, “so as to entice other children into following his example of leading them to Christ, though in the pattern of youth and fun.”c

Daily Catholic
First Reading: Phil 1: 1-11
Gospel: Lk 14: 1-6
Saint of the day: St. Foillan
Homily of the day: Lk 14: 1-6


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