By Catholic News Service | Published October 25, 2013
Philadelphia archdiocesan seminary will retain, rebrand college program
PHILADELPHIA (CNS)—A Philadelphia archdiocesan task force appointed last March to analyze the viability of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary’s college division has unanimously recommended that the division remain open, the seminary announced Oct. 22. The panel also called for a strategic plan to be implemented over the next three to five years to provide a vibrant, sustainable house of formation and education for future generations of seminary students. St. Charles Seminary has two residential divisions on opposite sides of its campus in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood: the college division, which houses undergraduate seminarians; and the theology division, which houses the postgraduate theology seminarians. The Philadelphia Archdiocese also operates the Graduate School of Theology and Program of Catholic Studies at the seminary as well as the Department of Permanent Deacons and Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood. In March, it was announced that the huge college division building, opened in 1928, will be closed and the seminary will be consolidated in the buildings that now house the theology division, with 45 of the seminary’s present 75 acres to be sold.
Promoting peace, human dignity among pillars of Holy See, says Rooney
WASHINGTON (CNS)—The pillars of the Holy See include promoting peace, human dignity and respect for human rights around the world, said former Ambassador Francis Rooney. Rooney, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2008, said he wrote his book “The Global Vatican” to contribute toward a public understanding of the Holy See’s role in world diplomacy, as he said at an Oct. 17 luncheon hosted by David Abshire and the Washington-based Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. Rooney is a trustee of the center, and Abshire is its vice chairman and counselor. The former ambassador described the Holy See as an international entity that works to exercise moral power against systems that threaten world peace. “It’s the authority, power and influence of the church to do good in the world,” Rooney told Catholic News Service in an interview. Ambassadors to the Holy See work to globally leverage this moral authority and to ensure the natural rights of man. The Holy See’s diplomatic corps includes ambassadors representing 179 nations. About 30 of these diplomats, according to Rooney, are followers of Islam. “It’s not just about (human rights for) Catholics,” Rooney said. Rooney said many ambassadors represent nations that are not predominantly Catholic. He said the mission of the U.S. foreign policy aligns with the objective of the Holy See’s diplomacy. “The U.S.’s foreign policy is focused on spreading freedom in the world,” Rooney said. “That’s the cornerstone of the Holy See’s diplomacy.”
Though weak, people must find strength in God to avoid sin, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Even though human beings are weak and imperfect, Christians can’t be lazy and wallow in sin, Pope Francis said. Believing in God means making a real effort to live the faith fully, not superficially, and asking the Lord for help and strength to follow him on the path of holiness, he said in his morning Mass homily Oct. 24. “We really are weak, and many times—many times—we sin, we have shortcomings,” he said during the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, according to Vatican Radio. The tendency to sin must be accompanied by acknowledging, “‘Yes, I’m a sinner, I am weak’ and always going to the Lord and telling him, ‘Lord, you have the strength, but give me faith! You can heal me!’“ It won’t work if people get comfortable with having a life where “I believe in Jesus Christ, but I live as I want,” he said. “Uh no, that doesn’t sanctify you, that will not work! It’s a contradiction!” The pope said God re-creates humanity in Jesus Christ.
Christians, Jews must fight discrimination together, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Christians and Jews must work together to fight all forms of discrimination and persecution, Pope Francis told a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “Where any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnicity, the good of the entire society is in danger,” the pope said Oct. 24. “Sadly I am thinking of the suffering, marginalization and real persecution that some Christians are experiencing in different parts of the world. Let us join forces to promote a culture of encounter, respect, understanding and mutual forgiveness,” Pope Francis said. Reaffirming the church’s “condemnation of every form of anti-Semitism,” the pope recognized the center’s work to fight racism and intolerance, to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and to promote mutual understanding.
Advice to royal parents: Pray, talk to the prince about Jesus
LONDON (CNS)—The leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion told the parents of the future British king to “make sure he knows who Jesus is.” Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury said that unless 3-month-old Prince George is united to Christ, he “can do nothing.” His comments came in address to the child’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, during the Oct. 23 baptism of Prince George, the great-grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the third in line to the throne. Archbishop Welby, who baptized the child, told Prince William and his wife, Catherine, that they had the “simple task” of teaching their son about Jesus Christ. “Speak of him, read stories about him, introduce him in prayer,” said Archbishop Welby, according to excerpts released by the Church of England to the British media Oct. 23. He said the parents must help George “to grow and flourish into the person God has created and has called him to be.”
Church in Kerala celebrates feast with elephants in Hindu tradition
KOTTEKAD, India (CNS)—In the Christian heartland of Kerala, feisty church festivals are commonplace, but the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Kottekad remains unique. Emulating a typical Hindu pooram, or festival, when the deities are carried in procession to the temples on elephants to the accompaniment of traditional bands called “panchavadyam,” a portrait of Our Lady of Fatima was carried to the Syro-Malabar Catholic church on elephants Oct. 20. Wearing golden headgear, two groups of three elephants each strolled elegantly for three hours at the back of the procession, swinging their broad ears as if enjoying the frantic traditional temple drum beat along the main roads of the parish. Other bands moved ahead of the procession with rows of colorful umbrellas adding to the glitter, while families vied with one another to burst firecrackers as the procession passed their gates. Each household was packed with family members invited for the parish feast. By the time two lines of the procession with the elephants met in front of the church, thousands had occupied every inch of space to watch the concluding “kudamattam,” or change of umbrellas.
New U.S. envoy to Vatican: Areas of agreement bigger than differences
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Disagreements need not hinder the Vatican and the Obama administration from collaborating on a broad range of peace and justice issues, including the promotion of religious freedom, said Ken Hackett, the new U.S ambassador to the Holy See. The envoy also told Catholic News Service that Pope Francis’ stratospheric worldwide popularity promises to enhance the Vatican’s international influence, making it an even more valuable diplomatic partner for the United States. The envoy spoke to Catholic News Service Oct. 24, three days after he formally took office by presenting his credentials to the pope. Hackett said Pope Francis has emphasized a number of issues—including poverty, human trafficking, refugees, and peace in Syria and the Holy Land—that also are priorities for the Obama administration. But he recognized the existence of disagreements, including over the administration’s plan to mandate that all heath insurance plans—even those offered by most Catholic institutions—cover sterilizations and contraceptives, which are forbidden by Catholic moral teaching. The plan prompted Pope Benedict XVI and the papal nuncio to the U.S. to issue public warnings of a threat to Americans’ religious freedom. Hackett said the Obama administration’s position on the matter is “very well understood” in the Vatican, “but if asked I will try to make the case as thoughtfully and constructively as I can.”
Father Terrence Toland, former president of Jesuit school, dies at 90
PHILADELPHIA (CNS)—Jesuit Father Terrence Toland, who as president of St. Joseph’s College welcomed the admission of women to the school, died of heart failure Oct. 18. He was 90. A funeral Mass was planned for Oct 28 at St. Matthias Church in Bala Cynwyd. A priest for 61 years, Father Toland served as an educator and administrator mainly in Philadelphia and Baltimore. At St. Joseph’s, which later became a university, he was known for his collaborative style of leadership and often met with students to discuss their needs and concerns. Jesuit Father C. Kevin Gillespie, St. Joseph’s University president, said Father Toland served as a welcomed adviser and supporter. “I shall miss his wise advice, often expressed with an Irish smile,” Father Gillespie said in a statement. Jesuit Father Charles Currie, who served on St. Joseph’s board of trustees during Father Toland’s presidency, recalled his friend as a person who readily engaged others. Father Currie is also the former president of the Washington-based Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. “Terry was always collaborative and collegial. He was very effective in bringing people together to talk and try to understand one another,” Father Currie told Catholic News Service.
Catholic college mourns death of alumna slain at her school
WORCESTER, Mass. (CNS)—Assumption College planned to hold a noon prayer service Oct. 25 in the school’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit to remember Colleen Ritzer, a 2011 graduate found dead early in the morning Oct. 23. Assumptionist Father Dennis Gallagher, the college’s vice president for mission, said the time of quiet, prayerful reflection also would be an occasion to pray for her family and the alleged killer, Philip Chism, a 14-year-old student at Danvers High School, about 25 miles north of Boston, where Ritzer taught math. Ritzer’s body was found in the woods behind the high school. Philip was charged as an adult and arraigned Oct. 23 in nearby Salem on a murder charge and ordered held without bail. Prosecutors said he beat Ritzer to death. Police said Oct. 24 Philip used a box cutter in the slaying. Authorities said the teen knew the 24-year-old teacher from school, but they provided few details about the killing or a possible motive, according to a Boston Globe report. The newspaper said the cause of death had not been conclusively established. People quoted by Associated Press or the Boston Globe spoke of Ritzer as well-liked and respected, a mentor to students, passionate about her job, close to family members. Philip was described as a quiet, pleasant top scorer on the school’s junior varsity soccer team, who recently moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee. “The Assumption College campus community mourns the tragic death of Colleen Elizabeth Ritzer, a 2011 alumna who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in psychology with a concentration in secondary education,” Assumption College President Francesco Cesareo said in an Oct. 23 statement. “Colleen worked as a math teacher at Danvers High School and will be missed by all those who knew her.”