Sept. 17, 2017
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Sister Lucy Fidelis; Underground Railroad; Sister Irene Hartman; DACA; new priests; teachers; Volunteer of the Year; Golf Classic; St. Francis Xavier; St. Nicholas Parish Center, Kinsley; seminarians; Knights Lite; Stewardship Day 2017
Full text of Pope Francis' in-flight press conference from Colombia
Aboard the papal plane, Sep 11, 2017 / 10:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his conversation with journalists on the return flight from Cartagena to Rome on Monday, Pope Francis touched on a variety of topics, notably the US government's decision to end DACA and the crisis in Venezuela.
He also touched on the peace process in Colombia, Hurricane Irma, climate change, and migration during his Sept. 11 flight.
Please find below CNA's full transcript of the Pope's in-flight press conference.
Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father, for the time you are dedicating to us today after an intense, tiring trip; very tiring for some, but also a very fruitful trip. On several occasions you thanked the people for what they taught you. We also learn many things in this culture of encounter and we thank you for it.
Colombia in particular, with its recent past, and not only recent, offered us some strong testimonies, some emotional testimonies of forgiveness and reconciliation. But it also offered us a continuous lesson of joy and hope, two words that you used a lot in this trip. Now perhaps you want to say something, and then we can go to the questions. Thank you.
Pope Francis: Good afternoon and thank you very much for your work. I am moved by the joy, the tenderness, the youth and the goodness of the Colombian people. A noble people that isn't afraid to express how they feel, isn't afraid to listen and to make seen how they feel. This is how I perceive it. This is the third time I remember [that I have been in Colombia] - but there is a bishop who told me: no, you have been a fourth time - but only for small meetings. One time in Laceja and the other two in Bogota, or three, but, I did not know Colombia well, what you see on the streets. Well, I appreciate the testimony of joy, of hope, of patience in suffering of this people. It did me a lot of good. Thank you.
Greg Burke: Okay, Holy Father. The first question is from César Moreno of Radio Caracol.
Moreno: Thank you, Your Holiness. Good evening. First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of all the Colombian media that are accompanying us here on this trip, and all of the colleagues and friends for having come to our country, for having given us so many beautiful, profound and affectionate messages, and for such closeness that you demonstrated to the Colombian people. Thank you, Your Holiness.
You arrived, Holy Father, to a divided country. Divided on account of a peace process, between those who accept and those who don't accept this process. What concretely can be done, what steps can be taken, so that the divided parts grow closer, so that our leaders stop this hate, this grudge? If Your Holiness returns, if you could return to our country in a few years, what do you think, how would you like to see Colombia? Thank you.
Pope Francis: I would like the motto to at least be: “Let us take the second step.” That at least it is this. I thought that there were more. I counted 60, but they told me 54 years of the guerrillas, more or less. And here it accumulates a lot, a lot. A lot of hatred, a lot of resentment, a lot of sickness in the soul. And the sickness isn't to blame. It comes. The measles grabs and drags you...oh, sorry! I'll speak in Italian. The sickness is not something to blame, it comes. And in these guerrilla wars - that they really waged, whether they were guerrillas, paramilitaries, or others - and also the corruption in the country, they committed gross sins that lead to this disease of hatred, of...But if they have taken steps that give hope, steps in negotiation, but it has been the last. The ELN ceasefire, and I am very grateful for it, very grateful for this. But there is something else that I perceived. The desire to go forward in this process goes beyond negotiations that they are being done or should be done. It is a spontaneous desire, and this is the strength of the people. This people wants to breathe, but we must help them with the closeness of prayer, and above all with the understanding of how much pain there is inside so many people.
Greg Burke: Now Holy Father, José Mojica, from El Tiempo.
José Mojica: Holy Father, it's an honor to be here, to be here with you. My name is José Mojica and I am a journalist for El Tiempo, the editorial home of Colombia, and I also greet you in the name of my Colombian colleagues and all communications media in my country.
Colombia has suffered many decades of violence due to the war, the armed conflict and also drug trafficking. However, the ravages of corruption in politics have been just as damaging as the war itself, and although corruption is not new, we have always known that it exists, now it's more visible because we no longer have news of the war and the armed conflict. What can we do in front of this scourge, up to what point can we stand the corrupt, how do we punish them? And finally, should the corrupt be excommunicated?
Pope Francis: You ask me a question I have asked myself many times. I put it to myself in this way: do the corrupt have forgiveness? I asked myself like this. And I asked myself when there was an act of...in the province of Catamarca, in Argentina, an act of mistreatment, abuse, the rape of a girl. And there were people stuck there, very attached to political and economic powers in this province.
An article published in La Nacion at that time moved me a lot, and I wrote a small book which is called “Sin and Corruption.” ...always we are all sinners, and we know that the Lord is close to us, that he never tires of forgiving. But the difference: God never tires of forgiving, the sinner sometimes wakes up and asks for forgiveness. The problem is that the corrupt get tired of asking for forgiveness and forget how to ask for forgiveness, and this is the serious problem. It's a state of insensitivity before values, before destruction, before the exploitation of people. They are not able to ask forgiveness, it's like a condemnation, so it's very hard to help the corrupt, very hard. But God can do it. I pray for that.
Greg Burke: Holy Father, now Hernan Reyes, from TELAM.
Hernán Reyes: Holiness, the question is from the Spanish language group of journalists. You spoke of this first step that Colombia has made. Today at the Mass, you said that there hasn’t been enough dialogue between the two parts, but was it necessary to incorporate more actors. Do you think it’s possible to replicate this Colombia model in other conflicts in the world?
Pope Francis: Integrating other people. Also today in the homily I spoke of this, taking a passage from the Gospel. Integrating other people. It’s not the first time, in so many conflicts many people have been involved. It’s a way of moving ahead, a sapiential way of politics. There is the wisdom of asking for help, but I believe that today I wished to note it in the homily - which is a message, more than a homily - I think that these technical, let’s say 'political', resources help and interventions of the United Nations are sometimes requested to get out of the crisis. But a peace process will go forward only when the people take it in their hands. If the people don’t take it in hand, it can go a bit forward, they arrive at a compromise. It is what I have tried to make heard during this visit: the protagonist of the peace process either is the people or it arrives to a certain point, but when the people take it in hand, they are capable of doing it well… that is the higher road.
Greg Burke: Now, Elena Pinardi.
Elena Pinardi (EBU): Good evening, Holiness. First of all, we would like to ask how you are doing. We saw that you hit your head… how are you? Did you hurt yourself?
Pope Francis: I turned there to greet children and I didn’t see the glass and boom!
Pinardi: The question is this: while we were flying, we passed close to Hurricane Irma, which after causing … deaths and massive damage in the Caribbean islands and Cuba, it’s feared that broad areas of Florida could end up underwater, and 6 million people have had to leave their homes. After Hurricane Harvey, there have been almost simultaneously three hurricanes in the area. Scientists say that the warming of the oceans is a factor that contributes to making the storms and seasonal hurricanes more intense. Is there a moral responsibility for political leaders who reject collaborating with the other nations to control the emission of greenhouse gas? Why do they deny that climate change is also be the work of man?
Pope Francis: Thanks. For the last part, to not forget, whoever denies this should go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly. The scientists are precise. The other day, when the news of that Russian boat came out, I believe, that went from Norway to Japan or Taipei by way of the North Pole without an icebreaker and the photographs showed pieces of ice. To the North Pole, you could go. It’s very, very clear. When that news came from a university, I don’t remember from where, another came out that said, ‘We only have three years to turn back, otherwise the consequences will be terrible.’ I don’t know if three years is true or not, but if we don’t turn back we’re going down, that’s true. Climate change, you see the effects and scientists say clearly which is the path to follow. And all of us have a responsibility, all… everyone… a little one, a big one, a moral responsibility, and to accept from the opinion or make decisions, and we have to take it seriously. I think it’s something that’s not to joke around with. It’s very serious. And you ask me: what is the moral responsibility. Everyone has his. Politicians have their own. Everyone has their own according to the response he gives.
I would say: everyone has their own moral responsibility, first. Second, if one is a bit doubtful that this is not so true, let them ask the scientists. They are very clear. They are not opinions on the air, they are very clear. And then let them decide, and history will judge their decisions. Thanks.
Enzo Romeo (TG2): Good afternoon, Holy Father. I unite myself to the question my colleague made earlier because you frequently in the speeches you gave in Colombia, called again, in some way, to make peace with creation. Respecting the environment as a necessary condition so that a stable social peace may be created. The effects of climate change, here in Italy - I don’t know if you’ve been informed - has caused many deaths in Livorno...
Pope Francis: After three-and-a-half months of drought.
Romeo: … much damage in Rome. We are all concerned by this situation. Why is there a delay in taking awareness, especially by governments, that nevertheless appear to be solicitous perhaps in other areas, for example, in arms trade? We are seeing the crisis in Korea, also about this I would like to have your opinion.
Pope Francis: Why? A phrase comes to me from the Old Testament, I believe from the Psalm: Man is stupid. He is stubborn one who does not see, the only animal of creation that puts his leg in the same hole is man… the horse, no, they don’t do it… There is arrogance, the sufficiency of “it’s not like that,” and then there is the “pocket” God, not only about creation, so many decisions, so many contradictions (...) depend on money. Today, in Cartagena, I started in a part, let’s call it poor, of Cartagena. The other part, the touristic side, luxury, luxury without moral measure… but those who go there don’t realize this, or the socio-political analysts don’t realize… ‘man is stupid,’ the Bible said. It’s like that: when you don’t want to see, you don’t see. You just look in another direction. And of North Korea, I’ll tell the truth, I don’t understand. Truly, I don’t understand that world of geopolitics. It’s very tough for me. But I believe that what I see, there is a struggle of interests that don’t escape me, I truly can’t explain… but the other important thing: we don’t take awareness. Think to Cartagena today. Is this unjust. Can we take awareness? This is what comes to me. Thanks.
Valentina Alazraki, Noticieros Televisa: I'm sorry. Holy Father, every time you meet with youth in any part of the world you always tell them: 'Don't let yourselves be robbed of hope, don't let yourselves be robbed of the future.' Unfortunately, in the United States they have abolished the law of the “dreamers.” They speak of 800,000 youth: Mexicans, Colombians, from many countries. Do you think that with the abolition of this law the youth lose joy, hope and their future? And, after, abusing your kindness, could you make a small prayer, a small thought, for all the victims of the earthquake in Mexico and of Hurricane Irma? Thank you.
Pope Francis: I have heard of this law. I have not been able to read the articles, how the decision was made. I don't know it well. Keeping young people away from family is not something that brings good fruit. Every young person has their family. I think that this law, which I think comes not from parliament [sic], but from the executive, if this is the case, which I am not sure, I hope that it will be rethought a little, because I have heard the President of the United States speak as a pro-life man. If he is a good pro-life man, he understands that the family is the cradle of life, and unity must be defended. This is what comes to me. That's why I'm interested in studying the law well.
Truly, when youth feel, in general, whether in this case or another, exploited, in the end they feel that they have no hope. And who steals it from them? Drugs, other dependencies, suicide...youth suicide is very strong and comes when they are taken out from their roots. Uprooted young people today ask for help, and this is why I insist so much on dialogue between the elderly and the youth. That they talk to their parents, but (also) the elderly. Because the roots are there...[inaudible] to avoid the conflicts that can happen with the nearest roots, with the parents. But today's youth need to rediscover their roots. Anything that goes against the root robs them of hope. I don’t know if I answered, more or less.
Alazraki: They can be deported from the United States...
Pope Francis: Eh, yes, the lose a root. But truthfully, on this law I don't want to express myself, because I have not read it and I don't like to talk about something I don't understand.
And then, Valentina is Mexican, and Mexico has suffered a lot. I ask everyone for solidarity with the dean (Editor’s note: a reference to the journalist, who is a veteran reporter and on friendly terms with the Pope) and a prayer for the country. Thank you.
Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. Now, Fausto Gasparroni from ANSA.
Fausto Gasparroni: Holiness, in the name of the Italian group, I’d like to pose you a question about the issue of immigrants, particularly about what the Italian Church has recently expressed, let’s say, a sort of comprehension about the new policy of the government of restricting the exit from Libya in boats. It has been written also that about this you had a meeting with the President of the Council, Gentiloni. We’d like to know if effectively in this meeting this topic was spoken about and especially what you think of this policy of closing the exits, considering also the fact that after the immigrants that stay in Libya, as has also been documented by investigations, live in inhuman conditions, in very, very precarious conditions. Thanks.
Pope Francis: The meeting with Minister Gentiloni was a personal meeting and not about that topic. It was before this issue, which came out later, some weeks later. Almost a month later. (It was) before this issue. Secondly, I feel the duty and gratitude toward Italy and Greece because they opened their hearts to immigrants, but it’s not enough to open the heart. The problem of the immigrant is: first an ever open heart, it’s also a commandment of God, no? “Receive them, because you have been a slave in Egypt.” But a government must manage that problem with the virtue proper of a governor: prudence. What does that mean? First: How many places do I have? Second: Not only to receive… (but to) integrate, integrate. I’ve seen examples, here in Italy, of precious integrations. I went to Roma Tre University and three students asked me questions. One was the last one. I looked at her and said, “I know that face.” It was one who, less than a year earlier, had come from Lesbos with me in the plane. She learned the language, is studying biology. They validated her classes and she continued. She learned the language. This is called integrating. On another flight, I think when we were coming back from Sweden, I spoke about the policy of integration of Sweden as a model. But also Sweden said prudently: this number I cannot do. Because there exists the danger of no integration. Third: it’s a humanitarian issue. Humanity takes awareness of these concentration camps, the conditions, the desert… I’ve seen photographs. First of the exploiters. The Italian government gives me the impression that it is doing everything, in humanitarian work, to resolve the problem that it cannot assume. Heart always open, prudence, integration, humanitarian closeness.
And there is a final thing that I want to say, above all for Africa There is a motto, a principle in our collective consciousness: Africa must be exploited. Today in Cartagena we saw an example of human exploitation, in any case. A chief of government said a truth about this: those who flee from war are another problem, but there are many who flee from hunger. Let us invest there so that it may grow, but in the collective consciousness there is the issue that when the developed nations go to Africa it’s to exploit it.
Africa is a friend and must be helped to grow. Today, other problems of war go in another direction. I don’t know if I clarified with this.
Xavier Le Normand (iMedia): Holy Father, today you spoke in the Angelus, you asked that all kinds of violence in political life be rejected. Thursday, after Mass in Bogota, you greeted five Venezuelan bishops. We all know that the Holy See is very committed to a dialogue with this country. For many months you have asked for an end to all violence. But President Maduro, on one hand, has many violent words against the bishops, and on the other hand says that he is with Pope Francis. Would it not be possible to have stronger and perhaps clearer words? Thank you.
Pope Francis: I think that the Holy See has spoken strongly and clearly. What President Maduro says, he can explain. I don't know what he has in his mind, but the Holy See has done a lot, it sent there - with the working group of four ex-presidents there - it has sent a first-level nuncio. After speaking with the people, it spoke publicly. Many times in the Angelus I have spoken about the situation, always looking for an exit, helping, offering help to get out. It seems that it's a very hard thing, and the most painful is the humanitarian problem, the many people who escape or suffer...we must help to resolve it in anyway (possible). I think the UN must also make itself heard there to help.
Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. I think we have to go.
Pope Francis: For the turbulence? They say there is some turbulence and we need to go. Many thanks for your work. And once more I’d like to thank the example of the Colombian people. I would like to conclude with an image. What most struck me about the Colombians in the four cities was the people in the streets, greeting me. What must struck me is that the father, mother, raised up their children to help them see the Pope and so the Pope could bless them, as if saying, ‘This is my treasure, this is my hope. This is my future.’ I believe you. This struck me. The tenderness. The eyes of those fathers, of those mothers. Precious, precious. This is a symbol, a symbol of hope, of future. A people that is capable of having children and then shows them to you, make them see as well, as if saying, ‘This is my treasure,’ is a people that has hope and future. Many thanks.
Vatican: Pope Francis 'is fine' after hitting face on popemobile
Vatican City, Sep 10, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis is fine after a mishap on the popemobile in Colombia, when he slipped and hit himself trying to reach a child, prompting a wave of concern on social media.
“The Pope is fine,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told members of the press corps traveling with Pope Francis in Colombia. He said Francis hit his cheek and eyebrow on the popemobile when it stopped abruptly as he was reaching for a child, and is using ice to lower the swelling.
In a tweet sent by Colombian radio station “Caracol Radio,” the Pope is seen with a black eye and bandage near his eyebrow, with a few spots of blood on his white cassock. In the video, when the journalist asks the Pope if he's alright, Francis nods and then jests, saying “somebody punched me!”
The incident happened in Cartagena on the last day of his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia, which also took him to the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Villavicencio.
The brutal, powerful 9/11 stories of Catholic priests
New York City, N.Y., Sep 11, 2017 / 12:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On the clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan heard an explosion overhead.
He grabbed oils for anointing, ran out the door of St. Peter's parish in New York City, and wandered towards the center of the commotion – the World Trade Center only a block away.
Fifty blocks uptown, Fr. Christopher Keenan, OFM watched with the world as the smoke rising from the twin towers darkened the television screen. Looking to help, he went to St. Vincent's Hospital downtown to tend to those wounded in the attack – but the victims never came.
All the while, he wondered what had happened to a brother friar assigned as chaplain to the firefighters of New York City: Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, named by some the “Saint of 9/11.”
Sixteen years ago on this day, hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. In a field in southern Pennsylvania, passengers retook control of the cockpit and crashed the plane before it could reach its intended target, presumed to be in Washington, D.C.
The consequences of the attacks have rippled throughout the United States as the attacks spurred a new global war on terror and irreversibly changed the country’s outlook on terror, security, and international engagement.
For Fr. Madigan, Fr. Keenan and Fr. Judge, the day changed their own lives and ministries, as a pastor lost nearly his entire congregation, and a friar put himself in harm's way to take on a new position – an assignment he only received because another friar gave the ultimate sacrifice as the Twin Towers came down.
“This experience has seared our soul and our spirit and our life, and it has so seared our spirit and our life that it has penetrated our DNA,” Fr. Keenan told CNA.
“It has changed our lives and we will never be the same,” he said.
It was like losing a village
On Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan had been assigned to St. Peter’s Church in the financial district of Lower Manhattan. The parish is the oldest Catholic church in New York State, “half a block literally from the corner of the World Trade Center,” Fr. Madigan explained to CNA.
“Prior to 9/11 it was a parish that basically serviced the people who came to the neighborhood who came to Mass or Confession, devotions and things like that.” The parish had a full and well-attended schedule of liturgies and prayers, with multiple Masses said during the morning and lunch hour. September 11th changed that.
“Immediately after 9/11, that community was no longer there, because it was like losing a village of 40,000 people next door.”
Fr. Madigan was leaving the sanctuary that morning, heading back to the rectory when overhead he heard the first plane hit the towers. Immediately he made his way towards the commotion, looking to minister to anyone who had been hurt by what had happened.
“I took the oils for anointing anyone who was dying – I didn’t know what was going on there,” he said. However, most of those fleeing the building did not need anointing, Fr. Madigan recalled. “Most people either got out alive or were dead. There weren’t that many people who were in that in-between area.”
Then, there was another explosion from the other tower, and an object – the wheel of an airplane, in fact – went whizzing by Fr. Madigan’s head.
“After the second plane hit I went back to the office and made sure all the staff got out of there fast,” evacuating staff who were unaware of the chaos outside.
Fr. Madigan was back on the street when firefighters began to wonder if the towers might fall.
Thinking it ridiculous, Fr. Madigan kept an eye on a nearby subway entrance, which linked to an underground passage north of the towers. Then, a massive cloud of dust swept towards Fr. Madigan and another priest as the towers did collapse; they ducked into the subway station, emerging amidst the thick smoke and dust several blocks away.
After the towers came down, Fr. Madigan made his way first to the hospital for an emergency health screening, then back to check on St. Peter’s. While he was away from his parish, firefighters and other first responders made use of the sanctuary, temporarily laying to rest over 30 bodies recovered from the wreckage.
The death of Father Mychal
In September of 2001, Fr. Christopher Keenan had been assigned to work with a community ministry program near the parish of St. Francis in midtown Manhattan. At St. Francis, he lived in community along with several other Franciscan Friars, including an old friend he had known for years – Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain for the Fire Department of New York City. Through Fr. Judge, the Friars became especially close with some of their neighbors at a firehouse across the street, who let the friars park their car at the firehouse.
Although the plane flew overhead, Fr. Keenan told CNA that “like everyone else, we found out while watching TV.” As the friars and brothers watched the events unfold on the television, they saw the second plane hit the South Tower; Fr. Keenan decided to go to St. Vincent’s Hospital – one of the closest medical facilities to the Word Trade Center. At the time, he thought there would be injured people who would need to be anointed or would like someone to hear their confession.
However, once he got to St. Vincent’s he found a long line of doctors, nurses and other responders who had come to help: together they “were all waiting for these people to get out who never came.” Victims were either largely able to walk away on their own, or they never made it to the hospital at all.
Instead, Fr. Keenan told CNA, “my responsibility was after people were treated to contact their family members to come and get them.”
As patients began to go home, Fr. Keenan continued to wonder about his brother friar, Fr. Judge, asking firefighters if they knew what had happened to the chaplain. Fr. Keenan left the hospital in the early evening to go hear confessions, but stopped at the firehouse across the street to ask the firemen if they knew where Fr. Judge was: “they told me his body was in the back of the firehouse.”
The mere fact that his body was intact and present at the firehouse that day was in itself a small miracle, Fr. Keenan said. “Mychal's body that was brought out was one of the only bodies that was intact, recognizable and viewable,” he said. Among those that died in the Twin Towers, he continued, “everyone was vaporized, pulverized and cremated” by the heat of the fire in the towers and the violence of the towers’ collapse. “He was one of the only ones able to be brought out and to be brought home.”
That morning, Fr. Judge had gone along with Battalion 1 to answer a call in a neighborhood close to the Trade Center. Also with the battalion were two French filmmakers filming a documentary on the fire unit. When the towers were hit, the Battalion was one of the first to arrive on the scene. In the film released by the brothers, Fr. Keenan said, “you can see his face and you can tell he knows what’s happening and his lips are moving and you can tell he’s praying his rosary.”
The group entered the lobby of the North Tower and stood in the Mezzanine as the South Tower collapsed – spraying glass, debris and dust throughout the building.
“All the debris roared through the glass mezzanine like a roaring train and his body happened to be blown into the escalators,” Fr. Keenan relayed the experience eyewitnesses told him. In the impact, Fr. Judge hit his head on a piece of debris, killing him almost instantly.
“All of a sudden they feel something at their feet and it was Mychal, but he was gone.“
Members of the fire department, police department and other first responders carried Fr. Judge’s body out of the wreckage, putting his body down first to run as the second tower collapsed, then again to temporarily rest it at St. Peter’s Church. Members of the fire department brought it back to the firehouse where Fr. Keenan saw his friend and prayed over his body.
Fr. Mychal Judge was later listed as Victim 0001 – the first death certificate processed on 9/11.
Despite the sudden and unexpected nature of the attacks, Fr. Keenan told CNA that in the weeks before his friend’s death, Fr. Judge had a sense his death was near.
“He just had a sense that the Lord Jesus was coming.” On several occasions, Fr. Keenan said, Fr. Judge had told him, “You know, Chrissy, the Lord will be coming for me,” and made other references to his death.
“He had a sense that the Lord was coming for him.”
The grueling aftermath
“There was no playbook for how you deal with something in the wake of something like that,” Fr. Madigan said of the aftermath of 9/11. Personally, Fr. Madigan told CNA, he was well-prepared spiritually and mentally for the senseless nature of the attacks.
“I understand that innocent people get killed tragically all the time,” he said, noting that while the scale was larger and hit so close to home, “life goes on.” For many others that he ministered to, however, “it did shake their foundations, their trust and belief in God.”
While the attacks changed the focus of his ministry as a parish priest at the time, they also posed logistical challenges for ministry and aid: St. Peter’s usual congregation of people who worked in and around the World Trade Center vanished nearly overnight. Instead, the whole area was cordoned off for rescue workers and recovery activities as the city began the long task of sorting and removing the debris and rubble.
In addition, a small chapel named St. Joseph's Chapel, which was cared for and administered by St. Peter’s, was used by FEMA workers as a base for recovery activities during the weeks after the attack. During that time, the sanctuary was damaged and several structures of the chapel, including the pulpit, chairs and interior, were rendered unusable. According to Fr. Madigan, FEMA denies that it ever used the space.
Still, the priests at St. Peter's saw it as their duty to minister to those that were there – whoever they were.
“The parish, the church building itself was open that whole time,” he said, saying that anyone who had clearance to be within the Ground Zero area was welcome at the church. In the weeks after the attacks, the parish acted as sanctuary, as recovery workers who were discovering body parts and other personal effects “would come in there just to sort of try to get away from that space.”
“Myself and one of the other priests would be out there each day just to be able to talk to anyone who wants to talk about what’s going on,” he added. “We'd celebrate Mass in a building nearby.”
Today, Fr. Madigan has been reassigned to another parish in uptown Manhattan, and St. Peter’s now has found a new congregation as new residents have moved into the neighborhoods surrounding the former World Trade Center site.
Only two months after the attack, Fr. Keenan took on the role of his old friend, Fr. Judge: he was installed as chaplain for the 14,000 first responders of the the FDNY.
Immediately, Fr. Keenan joined the firefighters in their task of looking for the remains – even the most minute fragments – of the more than 2,600 people killed at the World Trade Center. “The rest of the recovery process then was for nine months trying to find the remains.”
For the firefighters in particular, there was a drive to find the remains of the 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center and help bring closure to the family members. “You always bring your brother home, you never leave them on the battlefield,” Fr. Keenan said.
The resulting amount of work, as well as the “intense” tradition among firefighters to attend all funerals for members killed in the line of duty meant that the job became all-consuming, with all one’s spare time spent at the World Trade Center site. Sometimes, Fr. Keenan said, he would attend as many as four, five, or six funerals or memorials a day – and many families held a second funeral if body parts were recovered from the site.
“Here are the guys, overtime, going to all the funerals, working spare time on the site looking for recovery, and taking care of the families,” he said. “I was 24/7, 365 for 26 months.”
In addition, Fr. Keenan and the rest of the FDNY worked inside “this incredible toxic brew” of smoke, chemicals and fires that burned among the ruins at Ground Zero for months.
“I would be celebrating Mass at 10:00 on a Sunday morning down there,” he recalled, “and just 30 feet from where I’m celebrating Mass at the cross, the cranes are lifting up the steel.”
While both buildings had contained more than 200 floors of offices, there was “not a trace of a computer, telephones, files, nothing. Everything was totally decimated.” Instead, all that was left was steel, dirt and the chemicals feeding the fires that smouldered underground in the footprint of the towers.
“The cranes are lifting up the steel and the air is feeding the fires underneath, and out of that is coming these incredible colors of yellow, black and green smoke, and we all worked in the recovery process.” The experience working the recovery at the World Trade Center site is one that Fr. Keenan considers a “gift” and an “honor.”
“It was an incredible experience really,” he said.
Fr. Keenan recounted a conversation the firefighters had with him a few days after he was commissioned. After pledging to “offer my life to protect the people and property of New York City,” the other firefighters told their new chaplain “we know you’re ours, don’t you forget that every one of us is yours,” promising to stand by their new shepherd. “I’m the most loved and cared for person in the world and who has it better than me?”
While the formal recovery process has ended and a new tower, One World Trade Center, stands just yards from the original site of Ground Zero, the experience – and the chemicals rescue workers came in contact with for months – still affect the firefighters.
In 2016 alone, “we put 17 new names on the wall,” said Fr. Keenan, “who died this past year from of the effects of 9/11.” He explained that in the years following the attack, thousands of rescuers and first responders – including Fr. Keenan himself – have developed different cancers and illnesses linked to their exposure at the World Trade Center site. In fact, at the time of the interview in 2016, Fr. Keenan had just returned from a screening for the more than 20 toxic chemicals the responders were exposed to. He warned that the “different cancers and the lung problems that are emerging are just the tip of the iceberg,” and worried that as time progressed, other cancers and illnesses linked to the attack recovery would emerge.
The first responders are also dealing with the psychological fallout of the attacks among themselves, Fr. Keenan said, though many are dealing with it in their own way, and with one another.
Looking back, Fr. Keenan told CNA he still finds it difficult to express the experience to others or to make sense of what it was like when he would go down into “the pit” to work alongside the firefighters and other first responders. “The only image I had as time went on and I asked ‘how do I make sense of this as a man of faith?’ is that it was like I was descending into hell and I was seeing the face of God on the people that were there.”
The same image had come to his mind to make sense of taking care of patients with AIDS in the 1990s, he said, even though nothing can fully make sense of events like these.
“I was like a midwife to people in their birthing process from life to death to new life,” he recalled. “All I can do is be present there, they have to do the work, I can be present there, I can pray with them.”
“That’s how in faith I kind of sort of comprehended it.”
This Oklahoma priest was a martyr – and he'll be beatified Sept. 23
By Mary Rezac
Oklahoma City, Okla., Jul 8, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - “Padre, they've come for you.”
Those were some of the last words heard by Father Stanley Francis, spoken by someone staying at the mission in Guatemala who had been led, at gunpoint, to where “Padre Francisco” was sleeping.
It was 1:30 in the morning on July 28, 1981, and Guatemala was in the throes of a decades-long civil war. The three ski-masked men who broke into the rectory were Ladinos, the non-indigenous men who had been fighting the native people and rural poor of the country since the 60s. They were known for their kidnappings, and wanted to turn Father Stanley into one of “the missing.”
But Father Stanley refused. Not wanting to endanger the others at the parish mission, he struggled but did not call for help. Fifteen minutes and two gunshots later, Father Stanley was dead and the men fled the mission grounds.
“How a 46-year-old priest from a small German farming community in Oklahoma came to live and die in this remote, ancient Guatemalan village is a story full of wonder and God’s providence,” writes Maria Scaperlanda in her biography of Father Stanley, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.”
The five-foot-ten, red-bearded missionary priest was from the unassuming town of Okarche, Okla., where the parish, school and farm were the pillars of community life. He went to the same school his whole life and lived with his family until he left for seminary.
Surrounded by good priests and a vibrant parish life, Stanley felt God calling him to the priesthood from a young age. But despite a strong calling, Stanley would struggle in the seminary, failing several classes and even out of one seminary before graduating from Mount St. Mary's seminary in Maryland.
Hearing of Stanely’s struggles, Sister Clarissa Tenbrick, his 5th grade teacher, wrote him to offer encouragement, reminding him that the patron Saint of all priests, St. John Vianney, also struggled in seminary.
“Both of them were simple men who knew they had a call to the priesthood and then had somebody empower them so that they could complete their studies and be priests,” Scaperlanda told CNA. “And they brought a goodness, simplicity and generous heart with them in (everything) they did.”
When Stanley was still in seminary, Pope St. John XXIII asked the Churches of North America to send assistance and establish missions in Central America. Soon after, the diocese of Oklahoma City and the diocese of Tulsa established a mission in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people.
A few years after he was ordained, Fr. Stanley accepted an invitation to join the mission team, where he would spend the next 13 years of his life.
When he arrived to the mission, the Tz'utujil Mayan Indians in the village had no native equivalent for Stanley, so they took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.
The work ethic Fr. Stanley learned on his family’s farm would serve him well in this new place. As a mission priest, he was called on not just to say Mass, but to fix the broken truck or work the fields. He built a farmers' co-op, a school, a hospital, and the first Catholic radio station, which was used for catechesis to the even more remote villages.
“What I think is tremendous is how God doesn't waste any details,” Scaperlanda said. “That same love for the land and the small town where everybody helps each other, all those things that he learned in Okarche is exactly what he needed when he arrived in Santiago.”
The beloved Padre Francisco was also known for his kindness, selflessness, joy and attentive presence among his parishioners. Dozens of pictures show giggling children running after Padre Francisco and grabbing his hands, Scaperlanda said.
“It was Father Stanley’s natural disposition to share the labor with them, to break bread with them, and celebrate life with them, that made the community in Guatemala say of Father Stanley, ‘he was our priest,’” she said.
Over the years, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war inched closer to the once-peaceful village. Disappearances, killings and danger soon became a part of daily life, but Fr. Stanley remained steadfast and supportive of his people.
In 1980-1981, the violence escalated to an almost unbearable point. Fr. Stanley was constantly seeing friends and parishioners abducted or killed. In a letter to Oklahoma Catholics during what would be his last Christmas, the priest relayed to the people back home the dangers his mission parish faced daily.
“The reality is that we are in danger. But we don’t know when or what form the government will use to further repress the Church…. Given the situation, I am not ready to leave here just yet… But if it is my destiny that I should give my life here, then so be it.... I don’t want to desert these people, and that is what will be said, even after all these years. There is still a lot of good that can be done under the circumstances.”
He ended the letter with what would become his signature quote:
“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger. Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”
In January 1981, in immediate danger and his name on a death list, Fr. Stanley did return to Oklahoma for a few months. But as Easter approached, he wanted to spend Holy Week with his people in Guatemala.
“Father Stanley could not abandon his people,” Scaperlanda said. “He made a point of returning to his Guatemala parish in time to celebrate Holy Week with his parishioners that year – and ultimately was killed for living out his Catholic faith.”
Scaperlanda, who has worked on Fr. Stanley’s cause for canonization, said the priest was a great witness and example, particularly for the Year of Mercy.
“Father Stanley Rother is truly a saint of mercy,” she said. “He fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, visited the sick, comforted the afflicted, bore wrongs patiently, buried the dead – all of it.”
His life is also a great example of ordinary people being called to do extraordinary things for God, she said.
“(W)hat impacted me the most about Father Stanley’s life was how ordinary it was!” she said.
“I love how simply Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Paul Coakley states it: ‘We need the witness of holy men and women who remind us that we are all called to holiness – and that holy men and women come from ordinary places like Okarche, Oklahoma,’” she said.
“Although the details are different, I believe the call is the same – and the challenge is also the same. Like Father Stanley, each of us is called to say ‘yes’ to God with our whole heart. We are all asked to see the Other standing before us as a child of God, to treat them with respect and a generous heart,” she added.
“We are called to holiness – whether we live in Okarche, Oklahoma, or New York City or Guatemala City.”
In June 2015, the Theological Commission of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted to recognize Fr. Stanley Rother as a martyr. Pope Francis recognized his martyrdom in early December 2016, after meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Fr. Rother will be beatified Sept. 23 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The Mass will be said by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and concelebrated by Archbishop Coakley.
An original version of this article was published on CNA Feb. 18, 2016.
Why Nathaniel Hawthorne's daughter is now called a Servant of God
By: Stephanie Mann / NCRegister.com
Hawthorne, New York, Jul 11, 2017 / 01:34 pm (National Catholic Register) - Nathaniel Hawthorne added the “w” to his last name because one of his ancestors was John Hathorne, a Salem witch trial judge, and he wanted to distance himself from that legacy. Raised in a Calvinist milieu, Hawthorne was not a regular churchgoer, but as anyone who read The Scarlet Letter in high school knows, he was conversant with religious themes of sin, judgement, forgiveness, and mercy.
A supporter of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, he was rewarded with a diplomatic post – the consulship in Liverpool, England. The Democratic Party did not nominate Pierce to run for a second term, however, and the Hawthorne family toured Portugal, France and Italy in late 1850’s after leaving that post.
Hawthorne’s wife, Sophia Peabody, had been raised a Unitarian and both Nathaniel and Sophia were influenced by the Transcendental Movement, being friends with Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. They had three children, Una, Julian, and Rose.
Nothing in the family background could have prepared them for the conversion of their youngest child to the Catholic Church – except perhaps those years in Europe where they encountered “the Roman Church” in art and architecture, music, culture and prayer.
Marriage, Conversion, and Separation
Rose Hawthorne’s conversion to Catholicism in 1891 shocked the family. Her father had died in 1864 and her mother moved the family to Dresden, Germany, where Rose met George Parsons Lathrop. Because of Franco-Prussian War, Sophia moved again, back to England. There she died in 1871; Rose and George were married later that year in an Anglican Church over the objections of her brother and sister; they thought it was too soon after their mother’s death and that Rose was too young and vulnerable to marry.
They had a troubled marriage; he abused alcohol and their only child Francis died of diphtheria in 1881. George edited The Atlantic Monthly and Rose wrote poetry. They lived in New London, Connecticut and took instruction from a Paulist, Father Alfred Young, and were received into the Church. Like many new converts, they were filled with zeal and worked for the Church together on several projects, including the Catholic Summer School Movement and a history of the Visitation Convent in Georgetown.
In 1895, Rose and George took the extraordinary step of asking the Catholic Church for a permanent separation – not an annulment of their marriage – because of George’s instability and alcoholism which endangered Rose. Neither would be free to marry until the other died, so they demonstrated their belief in the indissolubility of marriage and in the Sacrament of Matrimony even as they separated. George died of cirrhosis of the liver three years later.
A New Cause; A New Vocation
Rose had witnessed the decline and death of the poet, Emma Lazarus, who wrote the poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus.” Rose noted that although there had been no cure for Emma’s cancer, she had been comfortable and cared for during her illness. Rose began to think of those who suffered from the same disease without the same palliative care and studied nursing the New York Cancer Hospital. She went out to the poor in their tenements and opened Sister Rose's Free Home on the lower East Side with the assistance of Alice Huber.
At the same time that she was engaged in such practical nursing and care for the poor. Rose attended daily Mass, went to Confession frequently, prayed, wrote (publishing a collection of family letters as Memories of Hawthorne), and worked to raise funds. At the urging of Father Clement Thuente, O.P., Rose and Alice became Third Order Dominicans.
On December 8, 1900, with the approval of the Archbishop of New York, Michael A. Corrigan, Rose founded a new religious order, the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer, and became its first Mother Superior with the name Mother Mary Alphonsa. She died on July 9, 1926 when she was 75 years old. Her parents had been married on July 9 in 1842.
Servant of God
The late Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, approved the opening of her cause for canonization in 2003. She is now called a Servant of God.
Her story, with its hints of literary romance and reality of separation and sorrow, demonstrates how strong the call to holiness can be. Out of her disappointment and grief from her failed marriage, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop as Mother Mary Alphonsa found a new vocation and a way to serve the poor and destitute in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, as her order is known today, offers this prayer for her canonization on their website:
Lord God, in your special love for the sick, the poor and the lonely, you raised up Rose Hawthorne (Mother Mary Alphonsa) to be the servant of those afflicted with incurable cancer with no one to care for them. In serving the outcast and the abandoned, she strove to see in them the face of your Son. In her eyes, those in need were always “Christ’s Poor.”
Grant that her example of selfless charity and her courage in the face of great obstacles will inspire us to be generous in our service of neighbor. We humbly ask that you glorify your servant, Rose Hawthorne, on earth according to the designs of your holy will. Through her intercession, grant the favor that I now present (here make your request).
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Funding for abortion to become more compulsory in Oregon
Salem, Ore., Jul 12, 2017 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News) - The Oregon governor is expected to sign into law a proposal requiring Oregon insurers to cover abortion on demand and increasing taxpayer funding for abortion, drawing strong criticism from Catholic leaders.
“By insisting on complete insurance coverage of abortion, including late-term and sex-selective abortions, the legislature shows itself intolerant of widely-held opposing views and will compel thousands of Oregonians to support what their conscience rejects,” the Oregon Catholic Conference said.
“House Bill 3391 forces insurance companies to cover abortion on demand and it forces all Oregon taxpayers to help finance an extremist abortion agenda that does not enjoy majority support.”
The Oregon House of Representatives passed the bill July 5 by a 33-23 vote. The Senate passed the bill 17-13.
The initial version of the bill’s religious exemptions were so narrow that the Catholic-run Providence Health System threatened to exit the state’s insurance market. The bill’s backers increased exemptions to the bill, but some objecting lawmakers said the provisions did not go far enough, the Catholic Sentinel reports. The exemptions apply to churches and other religious nonprofits.
Under the bill, the Oregon Health Authority must now provide abortion coverage where religious organizations will not.
The bill aims to counter expected changes in federal health care policy. It increases state spending by $10.2 million, most of the funding aiming to provide free coverage of exams, drugs, devices, and procedures. Abortion is considered a procedure under the law.
Under the Oregon Medicaid program, over $2 million is spent each year to pay for about 3,500 abortions, the Associated Press reports. The proposed bill sets aside about $500,000 over the next two years to expand free reproductive health coverage, including abortion, to immigrants.
The Oregon Catholic Conference voiced hope that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will not sign the law.
The conference encouraged citizens opposed to H.B. 3391 to support the proposed 2018 ballot initiative called the Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The proposal would bar state funds for any abortion that is not medically necessary or when spending is required by federal law.
The petition needs 117,000 signatures from registered Oregonian voters in order to qualify for the ballot.