Signs of the Times

McCarrick Warns Against Partisanship in Church

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick sharply warned the U.S. bishops on June 15 that "the intense polarization and bitter battles of partisan politics may be seeping into [the] broader ecclesial life of our Catholic people and maybe even of our [bishops’] conference."

The cardinal made his comment at the end of his final report on the work of the bishops’ Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, which he headed for the past three years. On polarization within the church he said: "We are called to teach the truth, to correct errors and to call one another to greater faithfulness.


However, there should be no place in the body of Christ for the brutality of partisan politics, the impugning of motives, or turning differences in pastoral judgment into fundamental disagreements on principle."

Polish Cardinal Apologizes for Clergy Informants

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, has apologized for priests who were informers for the Communist secret police and promised to "uncover the whole truth" about clergy collaboration. "The church is holy because Christ, its head, is a lamb without blemishes. But the church is made up of sinful people," said the Polish cardinal, who was the personal secretary to Pope John Paul II. "In the name of the Krakow church, I am saying 'sorry' to those who believe they were harmed by the stance of certain priests. This word also contains a sound and sincere wish to establish the truth." During Krakow’s annual Corpus Christi procession, held on June 15, Cardinal Dziwisz urged Catholics feeling outraged by clergy collaboration not to "turn against the church." The cardinal told the crowd of 15,000 that "one should not lose confidence in the church." Earlier in the month, a Krakow archdiocesan commission urged local priests to atone publicly if they had been Communist informers. The commission’s report was to be presented to the Polish bishops’ conference at its meeting in Poznan on June 23-24.

Wuerl Installed as Head of Washington Archdiocese

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl began his ministry as head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., by pledging to make the church’s voice heard in public debates and by recognizing the multiethnic nature of area Catholics. At the installation Mass on June 22, attended by nine cardinals as well as government officials and foreign ambassadors stationed in the nation’s capital, the new archbishop called on the Catholics of the archdiocese to help him carry out his responsibilities. "Each Catholic has the weighty charge of living the Gospel and unfolding its implications for the issues and circumstances of our time," said Archbishop Wuerl in his homily during the Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. God’s wisdom must impact on the life of society. The wisdom of God is a thread that needs to be woven through that fabric in order to create a truly good and just society, he said.

Catholics, Jews Meet on School Choice and Bias

The annual U.S. Catholic-Orthodox Jewish consultation drafted a joint statement on school choice and heard a report on anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism on the Internet during a meeting in New York on June 14. According to the report, the Internet has more than 5,000 hate sites and computer game offerings that are anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic or both.

The consultation involves the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Rabbinical Council of America and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. In a joint press communique after the meeting, released by the U.S.C.C.B. in Washington, D.C., on June 20, the participants said the statement on school choice "was approved, pending several minor emendations."

Pope Says Well Done for Outlawing Death Penalty

"Well done," Pope Benedict XVI said to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines as she handed him a copy of the law she recently signed outlawing the death penalty in the Philippines. At the end of a meeting with the pope on June 26, Arroyo gave the pope a statue of Our Lady of Guidance and a copy of the law in a leather case, telling him, "These are two expressions of the faith of the Filipino people." After the pope gave her some medals, she spent a couple of moments digging in her purse before pulling out her rosary and asking Pope Benedict to bless it. Earlier that day in Manila, members of the opposition parties filed an impeachment complaint against Arroyo in the Philippine House of Representatives, alleging that she has condoned political killings and violated the constitution to silence dissent. She and her supporters deny the charges.

Bertone Named to State; Lajolo to Run Vatican City

Pope Benedict XVI reached outside the Vatican diplomatic corps and appointed Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, Italy, as his new secretary of state. The Vatican’s announcement on June 22 said Cardinal Bertone, 71, will succeed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 78, on Sept. 15, when the pope will hold a special audience with the staff of the Secretariat of State to thank Cardinal Sodano publicly for his 15 years "of generous service to the Holy See." Before going to Genoa in 2002, Cardinal Bertone spent seven years as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Also on June 22, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of 78-year-old U.S. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka as president of the commission governing Vatican City State. But the Vatican said the pope also asked Cardinal Szoka to remain until Sept. 15, when he will be succeeded by 71-year-old Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, currently the Vatican’s foreign minister.

Funding Agencies Meet on Catholic Schools in Israel

Catholic agencies funding projects in the Middle East met in late June to discuss ways to increase the number and impact of Catholic schools in Israel. The discussion focused on the schools both as a resource for strengthening Israel’s small Catholic community and for promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence, said Msgr. John D. Faris of the U.S.-based Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine. Monsignor Faris participated in a meeting on June 19-23 of the Vatican coordinating body of church funding agencies for Eastern churches, known by its Italian acronym, ROACO. The discussion focused particularly on the 23 Catholic schools that serve 17,000 students in Galilee, he said. He said, the students in these schools are as much as 50 percent or 60 percent non-Catholics. Depending on the village where the school is located, the students include Muslims, Druze and Jews.

Hawthorne Dominicans Reunite Founder’s Parents

Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and other classics of American letters, left more than a literary legacy. His daughter Rose, a convert to Catholicism, founded the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, who have provided free care to poor cancer patients for more than 100 years. Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, had a deeply happy and loving marriage but were separated in death. Nathaniel Hawthorne was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass., the town where the Hawthorne family had lived for some years. The widowed Sophia Hawthorne and the couple’s three children moved to England; Sophia and her daughter Una died there and were buried in London. Now the remains of Sophia and Una Hawthorne have been brought home for burial beside Nathaniel Hawthorne, thanks to the Hawthorne Dominicans and some of their friends on both sides of the Atlantic.

Numbers Drop for Catholic Schools, Sacraments

The U.S. Catholic population rose by more than one million last year, but the church registered declines in Catholic school enrollments and in sacramental practice, according to figures in the 2006 Official Catholic Directory. The Catholic population rose about 1.3 million last year, to 69,135,254, the directory reported. The 2,043-page tome, also known as the Kenedy Directory after its New Jersey publishers’ imprint, came out at the end of June. It lists all ordained members of the U.S. Catholic clergy, as well as parishes, missions, schools, hospitals and other institutions. It also gives statistical data on the church by diocese and nationally. Its national figures include data from Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, and U.S. territories overseas, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. Based on annual reports submitted by each diocese, the directory is supposed to be a snapshot of what the church looked like on Jan. 1, 2006.

New Archbishops Celebrate With Pope

The powers of evil and death will never triumph over Christ and the church he built on the rock of Peter and continues to fortify with his successors, Pope Benedict XVI told new archbishops from 18 countries. Though the church and Christ are continually walking toward their cross, suffering and being tossed to and fro like a small boat on a sea whipped up by the winds of the suffering church, Christ is victorious, the pope said during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. During the Mass, the pope gave the archbishops named within the previous year a pallium, a circular band of white wool marked with six black crosses. The pallium symbolizes an archbishop’s authority and unity with the pope. The pope and archbishops were dressed in brilliant red vestments, but the pope wore a longer, more traditional style of the pallium.

In his homily the pope reflected on the service of faith Peter offered to the community of disciples. Commenting on Luke 22:32, Jesus’ prayer that Peter’s faith may not fail, the pope noted that the prayer was both for Peter’s perseverance in his confession of faithYou are the Messiah, the Son of the living Godand for his service of the faith of others.Delivered in the presence of representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantin-ople, the comments appear to have been a reflection on the Petrine ministry. The role of Peter, he said, is to sustain the visible unity of the church.

Among the 27 archbishops receiving palliums were three from the United States: Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, George H. Niederauer of San Francisco and Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Hyde Defends Palestinian Christians

In an unusual appearance, Congressman Henry Hyde (Republican of Illinois), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, testified before a subcommittee holding hearings on the condition of Palestinian Christians. Mr. Hyde, a strong defender of Israel, testified that the security barrier, commonly known as the wall, separating Israel from the West Bank, rips asunder the existential poles of Christian belief, the Nativity and the Resurrection. The wall, he argued, rather than other alleged factors, is a significant cause of violation of Palestinian rights and an impetus for Christian emigration. I am unable to understand how the currently routed barrier in Jerusalem, he said, will improve the security of Israel’s citizens. The veteran congressman added, the fact that the barrier is to be lined with settlements discloses political goals irreversible in nature.

Mr. Hyde also made a strong plea for preserving religious diversity in the Holy City and for Palestinian Christians as standing at the heart of moderate and secular elements in Israeli and Palestinian society. We must do all we can, he told the panel, to preserve the indigenous Christian community in the Holy Land. Also testifying was Father Firas Arida, the pastor of Seven Dolors parish in the village of Aboud on the West Bank. Father Firas told the committee the security barrier has resulted in his parishioners losing water supply and olive groves. The Israeli occupation, he said, must end, and there must be no more settlements on Palestinian land. The hearings were held by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, headed by Congressman Chris Smith (Republican of New Jersey) in response to a draft resolution assigning blame for the diminishing Christian population in the Holy Land to Muslim persecution of Christians under the sponsorship of the Palestinian Authority. Congressman Smith told the hearing that the security barrier did not appear to be solely about Israeli security and requested the State Department investigate further.

Mother Theodore Guerin to Be Canonized Oct. 15

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin, the 19th-century foundress of a religious order and numerous schools in Indiana, will be declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 15 along with a 20th-century Mexican bishop and two Italian religious founders. The date for the canonization Mass was established when the pope and cardinals living in Rome met at the Vatican on July 1 for an ordinary public consistory, a meeting that formally marks the completion of the canonization process. Earlier in the year, the pope had recognized the final miracles needed for the canonizations of the four candidates. Born in France’s northern province of Brittany on Oct. 2, 1798, Mother Theodore traveled to the United States as a missionary in 1840 at the request of the French-born bishop of Vincennes, Ind. Mother Theodore, who had been superior of the Sisters of Providence at Ruille-sur-Loire in France, founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

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