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May 22, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 1

Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte

Perspectives What is happening to the kiss?; making summer a bummer; finding joy

Established Jan. 12, 1972 by Pope Paul VI MAy 22, 2009

‘As one human family’

| Pages 14-15 Serving Catholics in Western North Carolina in the Diocese of Charlotte

Succop feels ‘incredibly blessed’ by

KATIE MOORE staff writer

By GENE STOWE Catholic News Service NOTRE DAME, Ind. — President Barack Obama took on the controversy swirling around his commencement address May 17 at the University of Notre Dame, urging those bitterly divided over abortion and other issues to adopt an approach of mutual respect and dialogue. Welcomed to the ceremony and frequently interrupted with Courtesy photo from

See OBAMA, page 6

Ryan Succop kicks a field goal for the University of South Carolina during a home game against Wofford College at WilliamsBrice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. Sept. 20, 2008. Succop, a Catholic from Hickory, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs as the last pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

H I C K O RY — Ry a n Succop, doesn’t mind being the last pick in the 2009 NFL draft. In fact, he considers it a blessing. “I took it differently than most people would,” said Succop, who was acquired by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 256th overall draft pick. “As a kicker it’s hard to get drafted,” Succop said, “I looked at it as a blessing.” Along with a chance to try out for the team, being the last pick in the draft earned Succop the title of “Mr. Irrelevant,” which for better or worse carries with it a good bit of publicity. The title, “Mr. Irrelevant,” has been around since 1976 when former NFL receiver Paul Salata wanted to honor See NFL, page 5

On a pilgrim’s path to peace

Conference aims to erase misconceptions by

no. 28

For football player, faith is relevant

Obama calls for mutual respect, dialogue on abortion, other issues at Notre Dame

‘Understanding Islam’


KATIE MOORE staff writer

In Holy Land, pope delivers religious, political challenges

HICKORY — Clergy and laity representing four Christian denominations from across North Carolina gathered for an ecumenical meeting at the Catholic Conference Center in Hickory May 18-19. The Bishops’ Ecumenical Dialogue or LARCUM

CNS photo by L’Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo

See ISLAM, page 8

Pope Benedict XVI holds hands with religious leaders, including Rabbi David Rosen (left of the pope) and Sheik Muafek Tarif (right of the pope), the Druze spiritual leader in Israel, during an interfaith meeting at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, May 14. A song of peace was sung as the leaders held hands.

by JOHN THAVIS catholic news service

JERUSALEM — Pope Benedict XVI’s eight-day visit to the Holy Land was a biblical pilgrimage, an interfaith mission and a political balancing act all rolled into one. It also was a gamble. In a region hardened by decades of

conflict and simmering social and religious tensions, there was no guarantee of success. The long-range verdict is yet to come on this “pilgrimage of peace,” but the pope certainly delivered a clear and challenging message to his See PILGRIM, page 9


Culture Watch

Hazards on the sea

Seminarians visit school; grad ordained a deacon

Book on late pope; celebrities continue ‘rosary priest’ mission

Priest discusses reasons for rise in piracy

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| Pages 10-11

| Page 16

May 22, 2009

2 The Catholic News & Herald


Current and upcoming topics from around the world to your own backyard

Vouching for success

CNS photo by Paul Haring

Ronald Holassie, a sophomore at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, testifies at a hearing on the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program on Capitol Hill in Washington May 13. Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams is in the background at left. Language that congressional Democrats included in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill would end the scholarship program, although President Barack Obama recently proposed allowing students currently enrolled in it to finish their education. The program gives low-income families up to $7,500 per year for private school education.

Senators urged to keep voucher program that helps low-income families WASHINGTON (CNS) — The District of Columbia’s public schools “didn’t get bad overnight, and they are not going to get better overnight,” a student from a Washington Catholic high school said May 13, urging Congress to continue funding a program that helps low-income families send their children to local private schools. Ronald Holassie, a sophomore at Archbishop Carroll High School, was one of two students who testified at a Senate hearing about the importance of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, now in jeopardy since Congress voted to cut funding in March. On May 6, President Barack Obama proposed more funding for students who are already in the scholarship program, but not for new students. The program gives annual scholarships of up to $7,500 to lowincome families that allows them to choose a private school for their children. Until the district’s public schools improve, students need Opportunity Scholarships, said Holassie, himself a scholarship recipient and the district’s deputy youth mayor for legislative affairs. He told the senators that at Archbishop Carroll he finds “more expectations, higher academic expectations.” “Teachers really want me to succeed. I didn’t get that motivation in public schools,” he said. “I feel that having Opportunity Scholarships absolutely changed me as a person. We need Opportunity Scholarships for children in D.C.” Tiffany Dunston, valedictorian of Archbishop Carroll’s class of 2008 who just completed her first year at Syracuse University in New York, testified she was the first member of her

family to attend college. She attended Archbishop Carroll with the help of an Opportunity Scholarship. “You have the ability to give other D.C. children the opportunity I had. My education gave me the chance at a successful future. Please don’t end a program that worked for me and is benefiting tons of other children,” she said. “Three years from now, I’ll be walking across a stage receiving my college diploma. Without the Opportunity Scholarship Program, none of this would have been possible,” she said. The Opportunity Scholarships were approved as a pilot federal program five years ago as part of a bipartisan effort to expand educational opportunities in the city for children attending public, charter and private schools. The program includes $14 million for annual scholarships so low-income children can attend the schools of their choice. Currently, 1,700 children in the city’s poorest neighborhoods receive the scholarships, with about one-half of them attending Catholic schools in the city. The Archdiocese of Washington and participating Catholic schools subsidize the remaining tuition costs for those students. Congress voted to authorize funding for the 2009-10 school year, with the stipulation that for the program to be continued after that it would have to be reauthorized by both Congress and the District of Columbia Council. A statement from the Archdiocese of Washington noted that Obama’s plan to continue funding only for students currently in the program “would mean the slow death of a successful program that is helping move children in our nation’s capital out of poverty.”

Help given to immigrants affected by Iowa raid called faith in action POSTVILLE, Iowa (CNS) — After the first anniversary observance of the immigration raid in Postville May 12, Archbishop Jerome G. Hanus of Dubuque said he hoped the event would show the world that faith in Christ ended in action. “We’re hoping to show that we take the words of our Scriptures very seriously,” he said, “to treat the alien in your midst like your brother or sister, and that when you receive the alien, the foreigner, you are welcoming Christ.” A year to the day federal agents descended on Agriprocessors, the town’s largest employer and biggest industry, and arrested 389 undocumented immigrant workers, people of all faiths and walks of life gathered in solidarity to show support for those most affected by the raid. Many of those arrested already have been deported. Others remain

Diocesan planner For more events taking place in the Diocese of Charlotte, visit www.charlottediocese. org/calendarofevents-cn. ALBEMARLE VICARIATE

MONROE — A parish retreat featuring guest speaker Augustinian Father Michael Sullivan will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 725 Deese St., May 24-27, each evening at 7 p.m. Topics covered will include “To be born again,” “The healing love of Jesus,” “The call to be church” and “Our response to the call.” The retreat is free and open to the public. For more information, call Deacon Roland Geoffroy at (704) 289-2773, ext. 240.


CHARLOTTE — St. Gabriel in Transition (SGIT) is a ministry for those who are, or may soon be, facing job layoffs or transitions during these trying economic times. The program goal is to support job seekers in their search for rewarding employment. Learn how we can open ourselves to new points of view and find opportunity in the face of adversity. The next meeting will be May 26 in the St. Gabriel Church Ministry Center, 7-9 p.m. Keynote speaker is Tom Lane, one of Charlotte’s leaders in career development. Networking and one-onone coaching sessions will follow the speaker. To register, contact Bill Conwell at SGIT@ CHARLOTTE — A solemn prayer service

lost in the court systems. More than 650 people attended a day of remembrance at St. Bridget Church. The day’s observance began at 10 a.m., the time the raid began. Bells around the town tolled once for each arrested worker. Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religious leaders joined Archbishop Hanus at St. Bridget for a 4 p.m. interfaith prayer vigil and solidarity walk to the Agriprocessors meat packing plant. It was important, the archbishop said, for the event marking the raid to be both local to Postville and universal in participation. “We decided the event had to take place here because this is where the event took place and this is where so much of the suffering has happened,” he said in an interview with The Witness, the archdiocesan newspaper. including a blessing with the relic of St. Peregrine for those suffering from cancer or other incurable diseases will take place at St. Matthew Church, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy., May 28 at 7:30 p.m.. St. Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer and incurable diseases. For more information, call the church office at (704) 543-7677. CHARLOTTE — The Chamber Choir from Northwest School of the Arts will perform in concert at St. John Neumann Church, 8451 Idlewild Rd., May 30 at 7 p.m. The choir’s performance is co-sponsored by the music ministry at St. John Neumann Church and by Dragon’s Breath, the high school choral booster club at Northwest School of the Arts. The choir will sing at the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday, prior to the concert. Admission is free and open to the public. A love offering will be taken, with proceeds to be equally split to support the diocesan Priests’ Retirement Fund and Dragon’s Breath. CHARLOTTE — A summer study on Women in Church History will be held at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 6828 Old Reid Rd., Wednesdays June 3July 29 at 10 a.m. (no study July 15). The program will be led by Barbara Reagan, retired high school and college history professor with more than 36 years of experience. For more information, call Aida Tamayo at (704) 554-1622. CHARLOTTE — A Blood Give-In will be held June 14 in the St. Matthew Parish Center Family Room, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy., from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Sign-up in the narthex of church following weekend Masses, May 30-31 and June 6-7. Participants will need to bring a picture ID.  Appointments will be honored. Walk-ins accepted as time permits. For more information, call the church office at (704) 543-7677. CHARLOTTE — An Evening of Recollection for Men, conducted by a priest of Opus Dei, will be held in the daily Mass chapel at St. Matthew Church, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy., June 5 from 7 to

may 22, 2009 Volume 18 • Number 28

Publisher: Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis Editor: Kevin E. Murray STAFF WRITER: Katie Moore Graphic DESIGNER: Tim Faragher Advertising MANAGER: Cindi Feerick Secretary: Deborah Hiles 1123 South Church St., Charlotte, NC 28203 Mail: P.O. Box 37267, Charlotte, NC 28237 Phone: (704) 370-3333 FAX: (704) 370-3382 E-MAIL:

The Catholic News & Herald, USPC 007-393, is published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, 1123 South Church St., Charlotte, NC 28203, 44 times a year, weekly except for Christmas week and Easter week and every two weeks during June, July and August for $15 per year for enrollees in parishes of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and $23 per year for all other subscribers. The Catholic News & Herald reserves the right to reject or cancel advertising for any reason deemed appropriate. We do not recommend or guarantee any product, service or benefit claimed by our advertisers. Second-class postage paid at Charlotte NC and other cities. POSTMASTER: Send address corrections to The Catholic News & Herald, P.O. Box 37267, Charlotte, NC 28237.

May 22, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 3


Vatican launches iPhone, Facebook applications for communications day

Pope’s pediatric hospital: Making a big impact helping tiny patients

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican is launching iPhone and Facebook applications in an effort to help Catholics, especially younger generations, use new technologies to create a culture of dialogue, respect and friendship. The new applications are part of a brand new Vatican Web site — www. — that was to go live on World Communications Day, which will be celebrated May 24 in most dioceses. Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the new site was created to help attract young people to and spread Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Communications Day, the head of the council, Archbishop Claudio Celli, told reporters May 18. This year ’s communications day message is dedicated to “New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.” “We thought that it was good

to present the message to the young generation through technologies that they know how to use,” the archbishop said during a press conference unveiling the new site. “We think this pontifical council itself has to use new technologies to promote new relationships around the world,” he said, adding that “we must take advantage of what the new technologies are offering us at this very moment.” He said the pope’s message inspired the council to create a simple, fresh site to work as a hub from which users can find some new ways the universal church is present in the digital world. The site offers viewers a link to a new application on the social networking site Facebook. In conjunction with the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio, H2Onews will distribute audio and video reports exclusively through the iPhone in eight different languages, including Chinese.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Of the thousands of hospitals the Catholic Church owns or operates, one has a very special patron. Known as “the pope’s hospital,” the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital belongs to the Vatican. Under the aegis of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, it’s the only children’s hospital in Rome. And the hospital has gained worldwide recognition for its quality care, cutting-edge research, Christian ethics and charitable outreach to five continents. This year Bambino Gesu, Italian for “baby Jesus,” is celebrating the 140th anniversary of its birth. From its humble beginnings as a 12-bed ward in a family home to 800 beds in a modern hospital complex, the pope’s hospital has a lot to celebrate. Founded in 1869 by Duchess Arabella and Duke Scipione Salviati, it became the first pediatric hospital on the Italian peninsula. At the time, children

9 p.m. A priest will be available to hear confessions beginning at 6:30 p.m. Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church, which aims to help people find God in their everyday lives. For more information, contact Joe Ignacio at (704) 752-7155, or e-mail   CHARLOTTE — A Morning of Recollection for Women, conducted by a priest of Opus Dei, will be held in the daily Mass chapel at St. Matthew Church, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy., June 6, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at 12 p.m. The priest is available for confessions starting at 9:30 a.m. Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church, which aims to help people find God in their everyday lives. For more information, contact Remy Ignacio at (704) 752-7155, or e-mail

To register, call (828) 926-3833 or e-mail


GREENSBORO — The Men’s Early Morning Bible Study Group meets Tuesdays at 6:30 a.m. for an hour of prayer, sharing and discussion in the library at St. Paul the Apostle Church, 2715 Horse Pen Creek Rd. The group will study the Book of Joshua during the month of May. For more information, contact Gus Magrinat at gmagrinat@ or John Malmfelt at HIGH POINT — An International Festival will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 4145 Johnson St., May 31 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Bring food to share; beverages are provided. There will be entertainment and exhibits from exotic places around the world, as well as special entertainment for children. It’s all free. For more information, call (336) 869-7739.


MAGGIE VALLEY — Contemplative living and nonviolence, a one-day workshop based on the life of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, will be held at Living Waters Catholic Reflection Center, 103 Living Waters Lane, May 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The program will be led by J. Patrick Mahon, who studies and teaches extensively on peacemaking and justice seeking. There is no registration fee, but pre-registration is encouraged.



needing care were obliged to share hospital wards with adults. With the help of their own children, who donated the contents of their piggy banks for the cause, the duchess and duke turned one of the family’s homes into a small pediatric hospital run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. In 1887, the facility was transferred to its current location within the 15thcentury convent of St. Onuphrius, on the Janiculum Hill behind the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI visited the hospital shortly after his election in 2005. He said he wanted Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital to be the first hospital he visited in his pontificate, not only because it’s a Vatican-related institution, but because he wanted to faithfully give witness to Jesus “who loved children tenderly and wanted them to be allowed to go to him.”

Harnessing the Spirit


CLEMMONS — Catholic homeschooling families in the Triad gather on Mondays at Holy Family Church, 4820 Kinnamon Rd., for enrichment activities such as hands on science, geography, Latin and art. Registration is now open or fall 2009. Interested families should contact Katie Knickrehm at (336) 996-2643 or katie_knickrehm@, or Liz Ruiz at lizimagination@ For more information, visit CLEMMONS — A Charismatic Prayer Group meets Mondays at 7:15 p.m. in the eucharistic chapel of Holy Family Church, 4820 Kinnamon Rd. Join us for praise music, witness, teaching, prayers and petition. For more details, call Jim Passero at (336) 998-7503. WINSTON-SALEM — Theological Tuesday, an evening with Father Herbert Burke, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Forest City, will take place May 26 at 7 p.m. in the Bishop Begley Parish Center at St. Leo the Great Church, 335 Springdale Ave. Father Burke is the author of “A Scriptural Catechism” and “The Rosary is the Answer.” His unique style and humor will inform and challenge you to better know Christ, through Mary, and to live your friendship with him. For more information, contact Mary Beth Young at

Is your parish or school sponsoring a free event open to the general public? Deadline for all submissions for the Diocesan Planner is 10 days prior to desired publication date. Submit in writing to kmmoore@charlottediocese. org or fax to (704) 370-3382.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis will participate in the following events:

May 27 (5 p.m.) Charlotte Catholic High School Baccalaureate Mass St. Matthew Church, Charlotte

May 28 (7:30 p.m.) Bishop McGuinness High School Baccalaureate Mass Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, High Point

May 28 (10 a.m.) Diocesan Foundation Board meeting Catholic Conference Center, Hickory

May 30 (11 a.m.) Sacrament of confirmation St. Francis of Assisi Church, Mocksville

CNS photo by Jorge Dan Lopez, Reuters

A priest sprinkles holy water on a horse for the feast of St. Isidor the Farmer at a Catholic church in Tixtla village in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero May 15. The saint is patron of farmers and rural communities. Seeds for planting and animals are traditionally blessed on his feast day in Mexico.

Bishop Wang, auxiliary in San Francisco, retires at age 75 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius C. Wang of San Francisco, who turned 75 in February. The papal decision was announced May 16 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Wang was believed to be the first Chinese-born member of the U.S. hierarchy. Born Feb. 27, 1934, in Beijing, Bishop Wang (pronounced Wong) was the fifth of eight children in a Catholic Chinese family that was descended from a Manchurian emperor, the rulers of the

last Chinese dynasty. After studies for the priesthood in Hong Kong, he was ordained for the Prefecture of Kienow, China, July 4, 1959. In 1974 he began work in several parishes in San Francisco, a city where nearly one-fourth of the residents are of Chinese ancestry. Before his appointment as a bishop in late 2002, Bishop Wang had been coordinator of the Chinese Apostolate in the San Francisco Archdiocese since 1981, archdiocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith since 1994 and chancellor since 1998. He was ordained a bishop Jan. 30, 2003.

4 The Catholic News & Herald


Crowning Our Lady

May 22, 2009

Rallying for the rosary

Courtesy Photo

Pictured are some of the participants, including members of the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters of the Americas, in the 66th semi-annual rosary rally at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte May 3. Father Brandon Jones, parochial vicar, led the participants in recitation of the rosary, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction. The next rosary rally is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Mother’s Day in the mess hall

Courtesy Photo by Barbara Markun

Christina Witte, a second-grader at Our Lady of Grace School in Greensboro, places a crown on a statue of Mary during the weekly school Mass at Our Lady of Grace Church May 13. The month of May is devoted to Mary and is traditionally celebrated with a crowning of Mary and praying the rosary.

Courtesy Photo

Members of Knights of Columbus Council 12481 prepare a breakfast for parishioners in honor of Mother’s Day at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Lexington May 10. Donations were collected for the Knights’ Operation L.A.M.B. (Least Among My Brethren), a fundraiser that benefits individuals with mental retardation.

Courtesy Photo

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales Father Albert Gondek, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Lexington, speaks during a May crowning ceremony outside the church May 10.

May 22, 2009

from the cover

The Catholic News & Herald 5

Succop feels ‘incredibly blessed’ NFL, from page 1

the underdog or the final pick of the NFL draft with a week-long celebration of events in Newport Beach, Calif. This year’s celebration is scheduled to take place June 22-26. But Succop doesn’t have time to think about all that. “I really don’t worry too much about the attention — simply because I still have to go out and make the team,” he said. “Right now I’m just focusing on football.” Succop was born and raised in Hickory, where he and his family attend St. Aloysius Church. His mother, Kathy, is the pastoral coordinator there. He attended Hickory High School, where he was rated the fourth best kicker in the nation. Then he accepted a full athletic scholarship to the University of South Carolina, where as a punter and placekicker, he set scoring records and earned numerous awards. While at USC, Succop excelled academically, often making the dean’s

Courtesy photo from

Ryan Succop punts the ball for the University of South Carolina during a game against the University of Georgia at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Sept. 8, 2007. Succop, a Catholic from Hickory, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs as the last pick in the 2009 NFL draft. list while pursuing a double major in finance and management with a minor in psychology. Throughout his college years, Succop said it was his faith that helped

him meet challenges. “My faith has helped me a lot” he said. “Knowing I’ve got that rock to fall back on strengthens me in everything I do.” At USC, Succop and his teammates prayed with the team chaplain. “The whole team says the Lord’s Prayer before every game,” he said. Off the field, Succop has made it a priority to give back to those who are less fortunate. “I’ve been so blessed,” he said, “I just want to be able to give back and help do God’s work.” As a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Succop spent time during college visiting with children at local hospitals and elementary schools. That desire to help those in need was instilled in him through his faith. “God has given me a platform to go out and help others,” he said. “I want to use that platform.” Succop completed rookie camp with the Kansas City Chiefs the second weekend in May. He’ll spend the rest of the summer,

“I just try to honor the Lord in everything I do.” — Ryan Succop

minus the week of festivities in Newport Beach, completing grueling training camps and workouts in Kansas City, Mo. Then in September, he’ll find out if he has made the team. While his focus is on football, Succop hasn’t lost sight of what’s really important. “I always ask myself, ‘Am I honoring God by doing this?’” he said. “I just try to honor the Lord in everything I do.” Contact Staff Writer Katie Moore by calling (704) 370-3354, or e-mail

6 The Catholic News & Herald

May 22, 2009


Obama calls for mutual respect, dialogue on abortion, other issues at Notre Dame OBAMA, from page 1

boisterous applause, Obama invoked then-Notre Dame president Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh’s winning an agreement in the 1960s from deeply divided U.S. Civil Rights Commission members during a fishing trip in Wisconsin as a model of persevering dialogue. “Open hearts. Open minds. Fairminded words. It’s a way of life that has always been the Notre Dame tradition,” Obama said, positioning dialogue as the hope for solutions to enormous modern problems. “Your class has come of age at a moment of great consequence for our nation and the world — a rare inflection point in history where the size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our world to renew its promise; that we align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age,” he said. “We must find a way to live together as one human family. Moreover, no one person, or religion or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history,” he said. Obama listed war, gay rights and embryonic stem cell research among difficult issues that demand dialogue, but he spent the bulk of his talk on the abortion issue. Critics of Notre Dame’s decision

to invite Obama, including more than 50 bishops, said the president’s support of legal abortion and embryonic stem cell research made him an inappropriate choice to be a commencement speaker at a Catholic university and to receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame. The local bishop, Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Forth Wayne-South Bend, announced weeks before he would not attend the ceremony, and a student group, Notre Dame Response, and other protesters held daily demonstrations. On commencement day, the student group also received permission to hold a vigil for life at the grotto on campus as an alternative graduation ceremony. During the main commencement ceremony in the Joyce Center, a handful of hecklers were escorted out during Obama’s talk — once with a student-led “We are ND” chant drowning out the protesters’ shouts. Obama said he had learned to choose careful language on the issue during his race for the Senate in Illinois, when a pro-life doctor complained that his Web site referred to abortion opponents as “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.” Obama had the words removed. “And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me,” Obama told the graduates and their families. “Because when we do that — when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do — that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground,” he said.

Polls find more Americans call themselves ‘pro-life’ than ‘pro-choice’ WASHINGTON (CNS) — Opinion polls are finding that Americans are taking a dramatic turn toward greater opposition to abortion. A poll conducted May 7-10 as part of the annual Gallup Values and Beliefs survey found that a majority of Americans (51 percent) described themselves as “pro-life” with respect to the abortion issue, while only 42 percent said they were “pro-choice.” The results were made public May 15. It marked the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1995 that more respondents said they were prolife than pro-choice, and was a shift of 7-8 percentage points from a year earlier, when 50 percent said they were pro-choice and 44 percent said they were pro-life. A separate Gallup Poll Daily survey conducted May 12-13 found that 50 percent of Americans described themselves as pro-life and 43 percent as pro-choice. The results were similar to another national survey made public April 30 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which found that the number of Americans who said abortion should be legal in all or most cases had declined to 46 percent in April 2009 from 54

percent in August 2008. Forty-four percent of respondents in the Pew poll said abortion should be illegal in most (28 percent) or all cases (16 percent), up from 41 percent in August 2008. The margin of error for each of the three polls was plus or minus 3 percentage points. In the 2009 Gallup Values and Beliefs survey, 52 percent of the Catholic respondents and 59 percent of Protestants or members of other Christian religions described themselves as pro-life, compared to 45 percent of Catholics and 51 percent of Protestants in May 2008. When Gallup first began conducting the Values and Beliefs survey in 1995, 56 percent of Americans described themselves as pro-choice and only 33 percent said they were pro-life. Since then, the highest percentage to identify themselves as pro-life was 46 percent, in both August 2001 and May 2002. In surveys conducted by Pew Research, support for keeping abortion legal in all or most cases ranged in 2008 from 57 percent in mid-October to 53 percent in late October but dropped to 46 percent in April 2009.

A Notre Dame student displays her mortarboard with a pro-life symbol next to a student displaying one with a symbol from the “Obama for President” campaign. The students are pictured prior to the commencement address by U.S. President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., May 17.

CNS photo by John Gress, Reuters

Acknowledging that positions on abortion are in some ways irreconcilable, he urged respect for conscience and recognition of the “heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both spiritual and moral dimensions.” “So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their children to term,” he said. “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women,” he said. “Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature,” he said. Noting he was not raised in a particularly religious household, he said he was “brought to Christ” by the witness of co-workers in service on the south side of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Obama acknowledged Catholic parishes helping fund an organization called the Developing Communities Project. He contrasted faith and certainty, describing a doubt that fosters humility. “It should compel us to remain open and curious and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame,” he said. “And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds,” fulfilling the golden rule shared by religious and nonreligious people. Obama invoked Father Hesburgh’s twin images of Notre Dame as a lighthouse of Catholic wisdom and a crossroads where different cultures can converge. The priest, now 91, attended the commencement. Obama also recounted how Father Hesburgh, the sole surviving member of the first U.S. Civil Rights Commission, brokered the deal that became the basis of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by flying

the members to Notre Dame’s Land O’ Lakes property: “They fished, and they talked, and they changed the course of history.” “I will not pretend that the challenges we face will be easy, or that the answers will come quickly, or that all our differences and divisions will fade happily away,” he said. “Life is not that simple. It never has been.” “But as you leave here today, remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small,” he continued. “Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family and the same fulfillment of a life well-lived. Remember that in the end, we are all fishermen.” Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, and Judge John Noonan, who won the university’s prestigious Laetare Medal in 1984 and delivered a brief speech “in the spirit of the Laetare Medal,” also addressed the protests that erupted after Obama accepted Father Jenkins’ invitation to speak. On May 16 a group of leading Catholic theologians and other leaders published a full-page advertisement in the South Bend Tribune daily newspaper in support of Father Jenkins’ invitation to Obama, and the graduating class selected the priest as their senior fellow. The crowd gave him two standing ovations at the close of the ceremonies. “More than any problem in the arts or sciences, engineering or medicine, easing the hateful divisions between human beings is the supreme challenge to this age,” Father Jenkins said in his introduction of Obama. “If we can solve this problem, we have a chance to come together and solve all the others.” Noonan referred to Harvard professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, who declined the medal in late April, as making a “lonely, courageous and conscientious choice.” “I respect her decision,” he said to applause. “At the same time, I am here to confirm that all consciences are not the same; that we can recognize great goodness in our nation’s president without defending all of his multitudinous decisions; and that we can rejoice on this wholly happy occasion.”

May 22, 2009

Vocational visitors


The Catholic News & Herald 7

Answering the call

Courtesy Photo by Barbara Markun

Paul Buchanan, a seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte, hands out holy cards to first-graders at Our Lady of Grace School in Greensboro May 13. Buchanan and seminarian Paul McNulty toured the school and visited classrooms with Father James Stuhrenberg, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Grace Church. Courtesy photo

Brother Richard Sutter is pictured holding the hands of Bishop Peter J. Jugis as he promises obedience during his diaconate ordination at Belmont Abbey May 11.

Belmont Abbey grad ordained as transitional deacon BELMONT — Brother Richard Sutter was ordained a transitional deacon for the Legionaries of Christ by Bishop of Charlotte Peter J. Jugis in a ceremony at the Minor Basilica of Mary Help of Christians at Belmont Abbey May 11. After 10 years of discernment in both the military and civilian life, Deacon Sutter has chosen to follow God’s call to a priestly vocation. He will be ordained as a Legionaries priest in Rome in December. Deacon Sutter first considered the priesthood in 1986 when he was 17 years old. But after interviewing with his diocese’s vocations director, he decided to go to college first. He graduated magna cum laude from Belmont Abbey College in May 1991 with a degree in business administration. He was in Army ROTC and the North Carolina Army National Guard, which led to his commission in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant upon graduation. He then spent time at several U.S. bases and in Germany. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal as a captain while serving a one-star general in Europe. In 1997, Deacon Sutter left the Army to pursue a business career. In 1999, after attending a Legionaries of Christ summer candidacy program, he decided

to follow his call to the priesthood. For the past three years he has been completing his theological studies at the Legionaries’ Pontifical Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum in Rome. He credits Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey with guiding him throughout college and the years that followed, prior to his entering the Legionaries. “Richard’s years at Belmont Abbey College were important for his formation in the faith,” said Abbot Solari. “Although he felt that his own personal character and gifts suited him better for apostolic religious life than monastic life, he gives the college community and the monks much credit for his own vocation to religious life and the priesthood.” “It is precisely because of the deep attachment he has maintained to the college and monastery that he requested that his diaconate ordination be celebrated at the Abbey,” Abbot Solari said. The Legionaries of Christ is a religious congregation founded in 1941. Its mission is to extend the kingdom of Christ in society according to the requirements of Christian justice and charity, and in close collaboration with the bishops and the pastoral plans of each diocese. Today the Legionaries number more than 800 priests and 2,500 major and minor seminarians serving in 22 countries.

8 The Catholic News & Herald

Conference aims to erase misconceptions about Islam

from the cover

Seeks to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding ISLAM, from page 1

Conference is an annual event to promote interfaith dialogue among Lutherans, Anglicans or Episcopalians, Roman Catholics and United Methodists. The goal of this year’s theme, “Understanding Islam,” was to dispel misconceptions regarding the Islamic faith. “In our society today there is a great deal of talk, discussion and criticism of Islam,” said Father George Kloster, pastor of St. William Church in Murphy. “A lot of the information is not accurate in terms of the true teachings of Islam,” he said. Father Kloster was the Catholic representative in the planning group for this year’s conference, which was attended by approximately 40 people, ordained and lay, from the four Christian denominations. Dr. Mohammed Lodhi, associate professor of biotechnology at Fayetteville State University, was the featured speaker. Dr. Lodhi is a participant in the Islamic Speakers Bureau. “Media, the Internet, books and television portray incomplete, and in many cases, misguiding representations of Islam,” said Dr. Lodhi. One of the positive aspects of the conference is that “people from different denominations are able to sit down face to face,” and discuss differences and similarities in their belief systems, he said. Topics of program sessions included an introduction to Islam and its history, an explanation of current events in the Middle East and a discussion of the barriers to peace and conversation among Muslims, Christians and Jews. “Each of the four denominations (Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic and United Methodist) has a bishop in its organizational structure,” said Father Kloster, who explained the premise behind the name and makeup of the event. Every year, one of the highlights of the conference is the bishop’s panel. This year the four bishops discussed their experiences with interfaith ministry, Middle East issues and peace issues. “I look forward to the LARCUM Conference each year,” said Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis. “It is a great opportunity to meet personally with (Lutheran) Bishop Bolick, (Episcopal) Bishop Taylor and (United Methodist) Bishop Goodpaster to discuss matters of common interest as we serve the Lord in North Carolina.” According to Father Kloster, there are two beneficial values of the conference. The first is education on the topic, in this case, Islam and understanding its myths.

The second is that the conference provides an opportunity for members of the four represented denominations to discuss misconceptions that they may have of each other. “We have things in common and we have our differences,” said Dr. Lodhi. At this time in history the focus tends to be on talking about the differences, but “we should be talking about our common goals,” he said. Contact Staff Writer Katie Moore by calling (704) 370-3354, or e-mail

May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009

from the holy land

The Catholic News & Herald 9

In Holy Land, pope delivers challenges PILGRIM, from page 1

diverse audiences in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories May 8-15. That alone was an achievement. The common theme that tied his events together was that God acts in human events, and that believers have a duty to make religion an effective force for good in a region suffering from war, mistrust and misunderstanding. To Christians, the pope focused on the hope brought by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On his final day in Jerusalem, he summed up his message, saying that the empty tomb “assures us that God can make all things new,” that peace is really possible and that long-standing hostilities can be overcome. That was the point of the pope’s pilgrimage to places like the Jordan River, the Grotto of the Annunciation and Golgotha. He was not just engaging in religious tourism, but trying to strengthen the confidence of the struggling Christian community in the Holy Land and the faith of other Christians who watched and listened from afar. His blessing of new construction sites for churches and a Catholic university in Jordan underscored his point that even as a tiny minority the church can have a significant and positive impact on society. Interreligious reasons On an interreligious level, the pope’s pilgrimage seemed to have two distinct phases. In Jordan, a predominantly Muslim country that has protected the rights of Christians, the pope lauded efforts to build an “alliance of civilizations” and curb extremism. His stop at a mosque in Amman was

historic — he’s now the first pope to have visited two Muslim places of worship. At the same time, the pope was not in Jordan simply to bless official efforts at dialogue. His aim was to reach a wider audience and provoke some thinking. His speech to Muslim leaders in Amman thus returned to the theme of faith and reason, which caused such controversy at Regensburg, Germany, in 2006; this time, he chose his words carefully, but continued to insist that religion detached from reason is susceptible to “ideological manipulation” that can provoke tensions and violence in society. His approach was to build bridges by affirming the moderate voices in Islam. When he spoke, for example, of the “fundamental contradiction of resorting to violence or exclusion in the name of God,” he cited Muslim messages from recent years. For most people, of course, papal visits work on a less intellectual level. The pope may have won the most friends in Jordan simply by wearing on his shoulders a Jordanian kaffiyeh or “shmagh,” a red-and-white-checked head scarf that for many people has political overtones. Complex complications When the pope landed in Israel May 11, the interreligious dimension of his trip suddenly got complicated. He began by honoring the memory of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and denouncing anti-Semitism. The same day he paid a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he met with six Holocaust survivors and spoke movingly of the tragedy of the victims. All this was designed to re-establish Pope Benedict as a friend of Judaism and the Jews. But the reviews were mixed, mainly because the pope, a native of Germany who lived under the Nazi regime, did not speak at the memorial about the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Vatican officials pointed out that

CNS photo by Heidi Levine, pool via Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI listens to Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem during the pope’s visit in Jerusalem’s Old City May 15. the pope has spoken on several previous occasions about the Nazi crimes against humanity. The pope’s interreligious dialogue encounter the same evening was unfortunately derailed by a Muslim sheik’s denunciation of Israeli policies, which prompted Jewish representatives to walk out. And with that, the pope was knee-deep in the politics of the region. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict touches every aspect of life in the Holy Land, so it should have been no surprise that the pope got an earful wherever he went. Especially in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on his one full day in Palestinian territory, speaker after speaker — including church leaders — denounced the Israeli occupation, the travel and economic restrictions, the destruction of homes and the

political detainees. The pope walked a finer line. On one hand he sympathized with Palestinians and strongly defended their right to an independent state; on the other hand, he spoke of “turmoil” rather than “occupation” and appealed to Palestinian youths to overcome bitterness and reject terrorism — words that Israeli officials were no doubt happy to hear. He denounced the 26-foot-high Israeli security wall that cuts through the West Bank like a concrete scar, calling it one of the “saddest sights” of his visit and a tragic symbol of IsraeliPalestinian relations. But even here, he was careful to avoid blame, referring to “the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built” rather than the “oppression” that his Palestinian hosts loudly condemned. Making progress The pope’s method was the moral prodding of a pilgrim. When he met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, for example, he explored the Hebrew scriptural meaning of “security” as not just the lack of threat but the building of trust. The pope did more than preach in the Holy Land. He also did a lot of listening, his aides said. For every papal speech, there were three or four speeches from his hosts. “I think that gave him a much deeper knowledge of the situation and problems of the Holy Land and the Middle East,” said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi. Of the visit’s many remarkable moments, one stood out: At an interfaith encounter in Nazareth, the pope and other Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Druze leaders held hands in prayer as a psalm of peace was sung — a small but significant achievement on his pilgrim’s path.

May 22, 2009

10 The Catholic News & Herald

Culture Watch

A roundup of Scripture, readings, films and more

Book says late pope kept sense of fun in his final years by

JONATHAN LUXMOORE catholic news service

WARSAW, Poland — Pope John Paul II sang and made jokes even at the end of his life, said a Polish archbishop who was one of the pope’s personal secretaries. “The pope loved to laugh and could play innocent pranks,” said Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of the Latin-rite Archdiocese of Lviv, Ukraine. “He wasn’t exuberant and didn’t collect information, and he preferred to listen rather than talk. But he also noticed it when you’d had a hard day or were in bad mood. He would wink at you and smile,” he said. The archbishop spoke to Poland’s TVN 24 about his book, “He Liked Tuesdays Best,” about life with Pope John Paul. He said that on Tuesdays during the papacy, Pope John Paul often would make discreet, unreported excursions outside Rome. Archbishop Mokrzycki said the pontiff was addicted to fresh air and insisted on keeping his Vatican apartment windows open, even in cold weather. The late pope rose regularly at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise and “also liked sunset, during which he often cut himself off and became immersed in prayer,” Archbishop Mokrzycki said. “When he had a worry, he’d ... sit on the terrace to pray in solitude. You could always count on him to remember you in his prayers. His secretaries placed the cards left in the Vatican with prayer requests on his chapel kneeler, and he read them all,” said the archbishop, who was ordained a priest in 1987 and named to his Vatican position in 1996. In the Polish-language book published by Krakow’s Wydawnictwo M publishers, Archbishop Mokrzycki said he was often asked to sing Polish folk songs by the pope, who “very much missed” his homeland, watched Polish TV news daily and supported Krakow’s local soccer team.

Pope John Paul also loved cakes, although nuns in the papal household tried to control his weight. “The sisters didn’t usually serve dessert since the Holy Father was fighting (becoming) overweight, but he had such a sweet tooth he often signaled a request to them,” said Archbishop Mokrzycki. “We all knew the sign — he didn’t have to say anything. Without even looking at the nuns, he’d draw a circle with his finger on the tablecloth and keep on drawing it,” he said. Archbishop Mokrzycki said the pontiff found it “very hard” to accept his growing incapacity with Parkinson’s disease, during which he had to be helped with washing, dressing and eating. “When he tried to stop his hand shaking and found he no longer could, he’d get irritated and hit the chair hard, as if wanting to say, ‘Why is this happening?’” Archbishop Mokrzycki said. “We sometimes saw him do this during general audiences. Watching him, I realized how much he must be suffering,” he said. “He’d always been strong, with so much energy and such an active life. Now, he had to get used to another, weaker self.” The archbishop said Pope John Paul was “fully conscious” April 2, 2005, the last day of his life, blessing visitors and saying farewell to the dozen closest friends at his bedside. He added that the pontiff’s face changed in his final moments and was “beautiful, smooth and without creases” at his death. Among other details, Archbishop Mokrzycki said Pope John Paul always kept his parents’ photo by his bed, as well as images of “Christ the Merciful” and the painting “Ecce Homo” by St. Albert Chmielowski. Among the pope’s key dislikes, the archbishop listed new shoes and having to wear ceremonial dress at official audiences.

CNS photo by L’Osservatore Romano

Msgr. (now Archbishop) Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, who was the assistant secretary for Pope John Paul II, places flowers on the tomb of the late pope in the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica April 2, the anniversary of the death of the Polish pope. The archbishop has written a book about life with the pope.


Sunday Scripture Readings: may 31, 2009

May 31, Pentecost Sunday Cycle B Readings: 1) Acts 2:1-11 Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34 2) 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 Gospel: John 20:19-23

‘Unity in the body of Christ’ by JEAN DENTON catholic news service

The range of ethnicities, shades of skin color and even languages spoken in our Catholic churches today reminds us of the Scripture from Acts in which those gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost heard the Gospel proclaimed to them in their various languages by the apostles. They were amazed that these unlettered Galilean followers of Jesus were able to speak in their diverse languages. But God had sent his Holy Spirit to unify those who had been formed by Jesus on earth. In the Gospel, Jesus links this empowerment to the Holy Spirit when, following his resurrection, he comes into the disciples’ midst, even though the doors are locked, breathes the Holy Spirit on them, and says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” The Gospel of Jesus’ cross, resurrection and promise of a new way of life would come to those who were able to say “Jesus is Lord.” And, as Paul says in the Acts reading, they could do so only

by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul credits the unity that was part of the promise of Pentecost to the work of the Spirit in bringing together the diversity of gifts and forms of service as “workings of the same God.” Fifty years ago, a glance around most of our churches would not have given the same impression of unity among the peoples of our society. Even though the Catholic Church was a leader among our nation’s institutions in breaking down walls of separation between ethnic groups, it was a slow and gradual process. The spread of Christianity after the day of Pentecost, for all of its power and promise, did not establish Christianity around the world immediately. Walls and barriers continued to exist between groups of Christians, barriers that had to be dealt with on a practical, day-to-day level, as documented elsewhere in the book of Acts. As we pray for continued outpouring of the Spirit, continued breathing of the Spirit of Jesus on his church, we should pray for a continued empowerment to proclaim the Gospel and the wisdom to continue to increase unity in the body of Christ. As happened in the early church, we will increase that unity by recognizing the various gifts and forms of service brought by the many nations who join together to worship and serve under the same church roofs -- our church roofs. Questions: Does your parish consist of more than one ethnic group? How can you and your church community move toward a greater unity within the body of Christ?

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE Scripture for the week of May 24-30 Sunday (Seventh Sunday of Easter), Acts 1:15-17, 20-26, 1 John 4:11-16, John 17:11-19; Monday (St. Bede the Venerable, St. Gregory VII, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi), Acts 19:1-8, John 16:29-33; Tuesday (St. Philip Neri), Acts 20:17-27, John 17:1-11; Wednesday (St. Augustine of Canterbury), Acts 20:28-38, John 17:11-19; Thursday, Acts 22:30; 23:611, John 17:20-26; Friday, Acts 25:13-21, John 21:15-19; Saturday, Acts 28:16-20, 30-31, John 21:20-25. Scripture for the week of May 31-June 6 Sunday (Pentecost), Acts 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13, John 20:19-23; Monday (St. Justin), Tobit 1:3; 2:1-8, Mark 12:1-12; Tuesday (St. Marcellinus and St. Peter), Tobit 2:9-14, Mark 12:13-17; Wednesday (St. Charles Lwanga and Companions), Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17, Mark 12:18-27; Thursday, Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9, Mark 12:28-34; Friday (St. Boniface), Tobit 11:5-17, Mark 12:35-37; Saturday (St. Norbert), Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20, Tobit 13:2, 6-8, Mark 12:38-44.

The Catholic News & Herald 11

May 22, 2009

New ‘Monologues’ play offers hope Young celebrities continue mission, vision of famed ‘rosary priest’ for healing after abortion One-act play designed for colleges, high schools by

JESSICA ROXBURGH catholic news service

WASHINGTON — A play created by a member of a Minnesota theater company aims to be an alternative to “The Vagina Monologues,” a popular campus play, but one that is often criticized for its sexual explicitness. Jeremy Stanbary of Epiphany Studio Productions says his play, “The Vitae Monologues,” portrays powerful stories of hope and healing from women who have suffered from the psychological and physical effects of abortion. Stanbary, founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based Catholic production company, was inspired to write this play a few years ago after hearing women and men speak publicly of their experiences dealing with post-abortion syndrome at a Silent No More event in Minnesota. Sarah Preissner and Stanbary star in the one-act play designed for performance particularly on college campuses or at high schools. “These personal and very real testimonies are unfortunately often dismissed by the secular, medical community,” said Stanbary. “The Vitae Monologues” or “The Monologues of Life” opens with a scene in a therapist’s office, where several people talk about seemingly unrelated problems they’re having in their lives. Each one has experienced trauma in the aftermath of an abortion. “Oftentimes symptoms don’t appear until years later,” Stanbary said. “Since Roe v. Wade, women have been repressed and ignored, but we’re seeing an influx of women coming forth, telling their stories of post-abortion syndrome — understanding that they are not alone.” “This play gives women a voice within our culture and their stories need to be told,” he added. “The greatest deception is that abortion is good for women and helps women.” The play tells the stories of women who “bought into this idea that abortion

would take away their problems,” Stanbary said. But Stanbary and Preissner have heard from an increasing number of women and men who say abortion has had severe psychological effects on them, he said. Post-abortion syndrome, like posttraumatic stress disorder, reveals itself in a variety of ways. “We touch on many of these problems in the play such as feelings of overwhelming grief, nightmares, thoughts of suicide, lots of anger, denial and suppression of the root problem, depression, anxiety, feelings of unworthiness as a parent, drug and alcohol abuse, increased sexual p r o m i s c u i t y, a n d s e l f - h a t r e d , ” said Stanbary. “These are real stories from real people,” he added. Although “The Vitae Monologues” shares with the audience a painful reality of the serious aftermath of abortion, it also offers the message that a place of healing and forgiveness can be found through Jesus Christ. Many might wonder how “The Vitae Monologues” counters “The Vagina Monologues,” a play that has caused many protests on Catholic campuses and beyond. “‘The Vitae Monologues’ deals with the more rotten fruits of the radical feminist movement and sexual revolution, which is abortion,” said Stanbary. “Both plays are also meant to be controversial.” “The Vagina Monologues,” based on interviews with numerous women, is a series of monologues in which women discuss their sexual experiences, including rape and other forms of violence against them. Many U.S. college groups across the United States sponsor productions of the play in an effort to raise awareness about sexual violence against women and to raise funds for organizations working with physically abused women.

by DAVE JOLIVET catholic news service

NORTH EASTON, Mass. — It’s a page right from Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton’s playbook — or rather his prayer book. Family Theater Productions in Hollywood, Calif., affiliated with Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, Mass., recently released a DVD, “Rosary Stars Praying the Gospel.” The project aims to spread the Gospel message by making the rosary come alive, particularly for a younger generation of Catholics. It features 21 young athletes, actors, directors, TV hosts, recording stars, authors and lecturers sharing a Scripture reading, their own personal reflection and a decade of the rosary, encompassing the four sets of mysteries of the rosary: joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous. It includes a meditation from Father Peyton, known as the “rosary priest.” J. Omar Castro, one of the celebrities recruited to help with the DVD, said he was “flattered to be asked to take part in this DVD.” He has appeared in the television hit shows “Without a Trace” and “CSI,” as well as in films with Nicolas Cage and Cuba Gooding Jr. “I saw this as a great opportunity to show others the power and relevance of the rosary as a prayer tool and maybe to demystify what the rosary is,” the Honduran-American actor said. Father Peyton spread the Gospel message utilizing state-of-the-art resources. He saw a great tool in radio and television to make the rosary come alive for thousands. He drew in celebrities of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s to help him carry out Christ’s mission. He called on the likes of Gary Cooper, Loretta Young, Jane Wyatt, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and many others. He also organized rosary rallies across the world attended by millions through the years. In his reflection on the DVD, Castro shared the painful divorce of his parents when he was 8 years old, and told of how praying the rosary helped him during that difficult time. He mentioned how at times he felt God was not answering his prayers, but he persisted in praying the rosary. Castro said he sees Father Peyton’s mission and vision as “very much in the mix even today. There are more people than let on who share Father Peyton’s vision.” “Just look at the Rosary Bowl held in 2007 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (Calif.),” he said. “I was there and amazed that more than 50,000 people showed up on a Saturday night near Hollywood.” “I see a resurgence of younger people praying the rosary, and I hope the DVD can help continue that trend,” he said. “I really don’t consider myself a celebrity. I’m just a guy who loves what he’s doing, and it’s through God’s

CNS photo courtesy Family Theater Productions

Family Theater Productions in Hollywood, Calif., affiliated with Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, Mass., recently released this DVD, “Rosary Stars Praying the Gospel.” graces that I’m where I am today,” Castro added. Ali Landry, a young actress and former Miss Louisiana and Miss USA, shared many of Castro’s sentiments. Landry, who had a role in the recent film “Bella,” heralded for its pro-life message about a young pregnant unwed woman who has the baby, said she agreed to work on the DVD “to share my faith and bring others closer to the Lord.” The Catholic faith played an important role in Landry’s upbringing. “Like Father Peyton said, ‘The family that prays together, stays together’; praying the rosary was the glue that held my family and my faith together,” she said. In her DVD reflection, Landry expresses the importance of “reaching out to others.” “Praying the rosary publicly shows others the meaning of opening up and touching someone. When people see and hear the meditations and reflections, it’s just a natural thing that some of them are going to be touched, and that’s why I wanted to be a part of this,” she said. Like Castro, Landry senses Father Peyton’s mission and vision as very much alive in her circles. “Family Theater Productions has been so important in my life and in the lives of many Catholic actors in Hollywood,” she said. “It provides us with a place where we can share our faith and grow in God’s love.” She met her husband, Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, at a Bible study program at Family Theater.” Monteverde directed and co-wrote “Bella.” Staying focused on God in her profession is difficult, she said. “That’s why Family Theater becomes so important and the rosary is such a powerful prayer. The rosary helps you focus on the life and mission of Christ, and sharing with other Catholic actors helps us regain that focus.”

12 The Catholic News & Herald

May 22, 2009

in our schools

Medieval monologues

Skateboarding success

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo

Lindsay Carnes, a fifth-grader at Our Lady of Mercy School in Winston-Salem

Fifth-graders at Our Lady of Grace School in Greensboro are pictured in

and winner of the national Kids’ Science Challenge is seen in this March 31

costume for their performances of “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from


a Medieval Village” at the school and at a local book store April 27-28. The

Lindsay won the competition for her entry of a unique skateboard design

performances consisted of seven monologues taken from the book of the same

that would utilize ball technology as opposed to wheels. The nationwide

title by Laura Amy Schlitz, who visited the school in March.

competition, which ran from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28, was open to third- through

Pictured are (back row) Charlotte Hambright, Emily Schettino, Alex

sixth-grade students. The goal of the competition is to encourage teamwork and

Tumlin,  Julia Tranguch, Maddie Heyn, Graham Helfrick; (front row) Tia

thinking “outside the box.” The winners, chosen from 770 entries, are given the

Cappuccio and Anna Marrujo.

opportunity to collaborate with scientists and engineers to see their ideas come alive. Lindsay will work with skateboarders and skateboard engineers as they experiment with her design.

S’Cool in school

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Pictured is the eighth-grade cast of “S’Cool: A Teenage Pop Rock Musical,” which was performed at St. Leo the Great School in Winston-Salem May 14. The students, who directed the performance themselves, put on two performances for the student body and their parents.

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Classified ads bring results! Over 160,000 readers! Almost 55,000 homes! Rates: $.80/word per issue ($16 minimum per issue) Deadline: 12 noon Wednesday, 9 days before publication How to order: Ads may be E-mailed to, faxed to (704) 370-3382 or mailed to: Cindi Feerick, The Catholic News & Herald, 1123 S. Church St., Charlotte, NC 28203. Payment: For information, call (704) 370-3332.

May 22, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 13

around the diocese

‘A leader for all of us’ Catholic receives peacemaker award for outreach efforts by


CHEROKEE — Ever since it established its Peacemaker of the Year Award seven years ago, Mountain Mediation Services has been trying to nominate Mary Herr. Every year she declined to accept. “There would be other people mentioned and I felt they were more deserving; and since it was on the (Qualla) Boundary I thought it should be an enrolled member,” Herr said. “I didn’t feel it was appropriate to accept when I was on the board.” But this year, Herr, a parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Bryson City, was named the 2009 Peacemaker of the Year on the Qualla Boundary, the Cherokee tribal land. She was honored at a luncheon at Cherokee United Methodist Church May 8. The Tribal Employment Rights Office and the office of Vice Chief Larry Blythe of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians sponsored the luncheon. “All of us at Mountain Mediation Services are thankful because Mary was one of the founding members of Mountain Mediation Services 15 years ago,” said Lorraine Johnson, MMS executive director. “I never dreamed that (MMS) would take off and do as well as it has,” Herr said in her acceptance speech. “It has been a great help to the community. I’m proud to have been a part of it.” Melvena Swimmer, MMS board president, presented the framed award certificate to Herr. She also received a cross made of yellow beads and other gifts from Carol Long of the MMS board of directors and a member of the Eastern Band. So why did Herr finally agree to accept the award? “Carol was the one who asked me,” Herr said. “She asked me personally; it

was just the way she asked me.” Awards have been or will be presented to other recipients in the counties where they serve. MMS promotes peace and cooperative resolution to conflicts in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, and the Qualla Boundary. It’s a member of the Mediation Network of North Carolina. MMS helps resolve conflicts between disputants such as family members, landlords and tenants, employers and employees, teachers and parents, and church members. Issues might include inheritance disputes, broken contracts, neighborhood vandalism, harassment problems, even a neighbor’s barking dog. However, MMS does not deal with violent crimes or domestic violence. MMS’s brochure notes the mediators, trained volunteers from the community, “do not take sides, decide who is right or wrong, or give advice. Mediators guide you through a process that allows you to identify the issues, explore possible solutions and decide which solutions work best.” Johnson described Herr as “someone who is a leader for all of us and someone who is a model of being a peacemaker in our lives. “Conflict is all around us, a part of life. Mediation teaches that there are two sides to every story,” she said. “Mary Herr has shown us, through the work that she does, that people can get along.” “Mary is very active in the Catholic diocese and shows her faith through the work that she does,” Johnson continued. “She shows that we are all one and we are all connected. She also understands the importance of staying involved.” In fact, Mary Herr, who has lived on or near the Qualla Boundary for 31 years, has been very involved in a variety of community efforts. “My life’s goal has been to develop local leadership enabling local tribal

Photo by Joanita M. Nellenbach

Mary Herr (left), Mountain Mediation Services 2009 Peacemaker of the Year for the Qualla Boundary, and Carol Long, MMS board of directors member, share a moment after the ceremony honoring Herr in Cherokee May 8. members to assume leadership roles on the Qualla Boundary,” she wrote in her biography for the award. “Throughout the years, the Cherokees have produced some very capable and responsible leaders.”

Herr has been employed by several legal services programs in Tennessee and North Carolina as a paralegal and community educator, and also with the Catholic Church in Cherokee in this capacity. For six years she has worked as program supervisor for the Guardian ad Litem program, which provides court advocacy for abused children in Qualla Boundary and three counties. In addition to her past service on the Qualla Boundary advisory board for MMS, she currently serves on boards of several nonprofit and community organizations, including the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, Cherokee Healing and Wellness Coalition, Yogi Crowe Memorial Scholarship Fund, Legal Aid of North Carolina and the diocesan Office of Economic Opportunity of Catholic Social Services. Herr retired in 2006 as regional faith formation consultant and Native American multicultural worker for the Smoky Mountain Vicariate in the Diocese of Charlotte. Contact Correspondent Joanita M. Nellenbach by calling (828) 627-9209 or e-mail

Leading catechists

Courtesy Photo by Dr. Cris Villapando

Father James Hawker, a retired priest of the Diocese of Charlotte and former vicar for education, presents “The Catechetical Leader” Called to Be and to Become a Faith-filled Disciple” during an in-service workshop sponsored by the diocesan Education Vicariate at the Catholic Conference Center in Hickory May 14. Approximately 50 catechists from around the Diocese of Charlotte, including faith formation teachers, Catholic school religion teachers and youth ministers, participated in the workshop that explored the elements of catechetical leadership.

May 22, 2009

14 The Catholic News & Herald


A collection of columns, editorials and viewpoints

Peaches in spring

Good foundation needed to judge contemporary events

Joy is contentment based on faith in God’s goodness I saw a stunningly beautiful woman recently and thought to myself, “What a peach!” I didn’t think of God right away, but it eventually came to me that she was a wonderful advertisement for the author of all beauty. Her particular beauty had more to do with substance than mere good looks; at least, that’s how it hit me. She had something extra that came from within. Joy is a quality of the soul that is super-added to one’s physical appearance. Physical beauty is skin deep, but a joyful soul animates the entire body and tells us something about the presence of the Holy Spirit. I found Blessed Mother Teresa to be quite beautiful; her aura enveloped you like the aroma of a gardenia. Artists have depicted this inner glow by means of a halo, and yet it is more than an imaginary light. It is actually a spiritual fragrance flowing from the Holy Spirit. If you’d like to acquire this beautyenhancing gift, it is free of charge, but you have to do some serious work. You have to try to experience the delight that comes from a clear conscience and feel the satisfaction of completing a difficult task for the glory of God. If you enjoy the wonderful feeling that comes from knowing that God really loves you, you’ll understand what I mean. By the way, the knowledge that God loves you is basic to the gift of faith. It helps you to enjoy life more. It’s like the noble emotion that flows from the joy of human life. I’m thinking of a big Italian dinner with good wine, surrounded by family and friends. It’s easier to feel wholehearted gratitude to God when your stomach is full and you have laughed much. If you have never seen the movie “Babette’s Feast,” give yourself a treat. It opens rather slowly but builds to a wonderful conclusion.

Perennial wisdom can be a valuable asset

Spirituality for Today FATHER JOHN CATOIR cns columnist

On a higher level, joy is an inner peace flowing from the knowledge that the Lord is preparing a fantastic place for us in heaven. Believing that you’re going to make it to heaven because of God’s mercy is not presumption; it is the Christian virtue of hope in action. How blessed we are and how good God is for loving us in spite of our sins! To live in the Holy Spirit is to rejoice in the knowledge of God’s unchanging love. Julian of Norwich, a 15th century mystic, said, “The greatest honor you can give to Almighty God is to live joyfully because of the knowledge his love.” Sure, today’s times are tough, but we will learn to trim our sails and get through it. Just be sure that you cling to the truth that joy prevails over sorrow. It really does. “Ask and you will receive,” for Jesus always keeps his promises. The New Catholic Encyclopedia defines “joy” as a pleasant state of quiescence in which the will rests satisfied in possessing a desirable good or in accomplishing a goal that was diligently pursued. I think of joy as a contentment based on faith in God’s goodness. Given the fact that God loves you with an infinite love, you can relax and enjoy the gift of life. Ecstasy will come later when you receive the beatific vision. But for now, just enjoy life and let your joy shine! Then you can look peachy too.

“Read from the bottom up,” instructed the note at the beginning of an e-mail message. The entry made little sense on its own. One found its meaning only by reading the original message well below in the string. “Reading from the bottom up,” or knowing the background to provide relevance, is equally necessary in discerning current issues. A note from a reader in Michigan complained about the lack of moral teaching from the pulpit. “I would love to hear homilies on today’s moral issues,” she wrote. “We Catholics need spiritual advice to live in today’s modern world as Christians.” No argument there. But let’s also consider the plight of the homilist. He has about 15 minutes to speak to complicated issues. Explaining the morality of stem cells, distinguishing between licit adult stem cells and illicit embryonic stem cells is a tall order when starting cold. A homily or any instruction cannot be effective unless it resonates with a core belief. Why is the church involved in politics? Why are we having a biology lecture at Mass? These topics, if located within an integrated understanding of the fundamentals of faith, do make sense. Effective communication requires a basis of understanding. At its simplest, it is almost reflexive. You’re about to step off the curb when a voice yells, “Watch out for that car!” You jump back without having to process the facts: A car is coming; if it hits me I will be injured. Good and evil are not as sharply distinguished as in simpler times. “Does the recent significant change in the American political landscape point to significant changes in the way the Catholic Church and its institutions relate to the American political system?” asked Jesuit Father John Langan at a recent seminar. Father Langan is a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University in Washington. “Politics is not simply about elections and personalities and about simple yes or no decisions, but about

Consider This STEPHEN KENT cns columnist

issues and programs which will usually require more nuanced assessments,” he continued. In a culture where ideas and issues change as rapidly as fashion, some are finding answers in 13th-century philosophy with renewed emphasis on dialogue between faith and contemporary culture. “In the desire to be relevant, there is a temptation to abandon commitment to perennial wisdom and the understanding of our forbearers,” said Dominican Father Thomas Joseph White. Father White is a theologian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, where they believe the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas has meaning in contemporary culture. Thomists are “taking perennial wisdom and engaging in a profound conversation with contemporary issues,” said Father White. A basic understanding of natural law and appreciation of the meaning of human life and the harmony of faith and reason — each is a good foundation that can be used to judge contemporary events, and that is “reading from the bottom up.” The harmony of faith and reason insisted upon by Aquinas is vital today. “These two temptations of faith against reason or reason against faith are very prevalent,” Father White said. “One tendency is to think that faith and reason are rivals, so that either reason exalts itself and only finds its independence denying faith ..., or I have to just believe, to have faith, abandon myself to God, ... and there’s no point of contact with my ordinary reason and my ordinary life,” he said. Perennial wisdom is a valuable asset for making the nuanced assessments necessary if we are to engage in conversation rather than confrontation.

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May 22, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 15

What is happening to the kiss?


Swine flu spurs examination of act with divine origins When dioceses notified parishioners to keep a distance from each other at the kiss of peace because of the swine flu, I began to wonder about the future of the kiss. As word of a pandemic spread, it was as if all kissing was forbidden. Even the French took precautions to avoid the traditional cheek-to-cheek kiss. And, too, the business world is now requiring employees and employers to attend sexual harassment sessions that counsel: better not to kiss, no matter the circumstances. Are we entering an age in which any kind of kissing is suspect? To answer this, let’s look at its many sides. The “bacio della morte” is one kiss you definitely don’t want to receive because it indicates you are going to die at the hands of the mob. In Scripture, the betrayal kiss of Judas reflects deceit and hypocrisy. Kisses like these are demeaning and

without value. On the other hand, a proper kiss is heavenly. Take, for example, Pope John Paul II kissing the ground upon entering a country as a sign of respect and gratitude. How often did our mother kiss a painful bump we received to acknowledge she also felt it and was trying to make it go away? Then there is the life-changing kiss. “He kissed me and now I am someone else” by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral. British poet Robert Browning pictures a kiss as a sigh: “What of the soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?” Irish writer Samuel Beckett would point us to all the warm, loving kisses we received throughout life: “All those lips that had kissed me, those hearts that had loved me (it is with the heart one loves, is it not, or am I confusing it with something else?).” The lingering power of a kiss is

The Human Side FATHER EUGENE HEMRICK cns columnist

played in a heart-wrenching song in the movie “Casablanca”: “You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh; the fundamental things apply as time goes by.” Most important of all, a kiss is imperative to our spiritual life. Mary Magdalene washes the feet of Christ and then kisses them out of love for Christ. No matter the present suspicions surrounding a kiss, it will always have a future because of its divine origins.

Ten easy ways to make summer a bummer lovely park and the next thing you know there are ants or, worse, there are yellow jackets or other bees. And it could be hot out. 4. Avoid at all costs the temptation to look in the newspaper or go online to find out what shows, exhibits or other events in your area are free or have a low, low cost. If you’re not careful, your children will be exposed to great music and art. Or they’ll want to see another play or go to another (semipro) ballgame. Worse still, they may start thinking about playing a musical instrument, drawing, writing or sharpening their athletic skills themselves! 5. Money’s not a problem? Get the kids so involved in organized activities that they don’t have time to lie in the grass, stare up at the clouds and daydream. 6. Pin all your hopes on next summer. It has to be better, right? Assume this one is a total loss and next year’s will be nearly perfect. Absolutely no troubles, challenges, setbacks or disappointments. 7. Stall through summer 2009 because it won’t be too many more summers before your children are off on their own.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said his visit to the Holy Land was a pilgrimage of faith and of peace, and an occasion to bear witness to the fact that even in desperate situations of tension believers trust in the power of God. “In that land blessed by God, it sometimes seems impossible to break the spiral of violence, but nothing is impossible for God and for those who trust in him,” the pope said May 20 at his weekly general audience. “For this reason, faith in the one God — just and merciful — is the most precious resource” of the Christians, Muslims and Jews living in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, he said. Reviewing his May 8-15 trip for the 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope said that in his meetings with government leaders he tried to be a messenger of peace and to remind everyone that faith should help the region’s people unleash the power of respect, reconciliation and cooperation. Here is the text of the pope’s audience remarks in English.

For summer fun, don’t follow this advice To rephrase Psalm 118:24: “This is the summer the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.” But that’s not always easy to do, is it? Summer 2009 may be a tough one for your family for any number of reasons, including household economics! But here are 10 easy ways to guarantee your summer is a bummer: 1. Assume that because money is tight, joy is impossible. If you can’t make it to the major theme park or rent that cabin in mountains, what’s the point? Never mind that several trips to the local park and some nights in an old camping tent in the backyard can be sources for a lot of happy memories. (Note to self: S’mores can be made using the microwave.) 2. Don’t plant a small vegetable garden. Don’t plant flowers. After all, who wants more vegetables? And what good are flowers? Sure, the produce you don’t eat yourselves can be given to friends or donated to the local food bank. And, yes, flowers will brighten up your home and make great gifts for family and friends but ... 3. Don’t plan Sunday brunch picnics for after Mass. You bring food into a

God can bring peace to Middle East, pope says at audience

Your Family BILL AND MONICA DODDS cns columnists

8. Let Sunday Mass attendance slide. Lots of people do that, don’t they? You deserve an extra day to sleep in. Your kids and your spouse aren’t always keen on going anyway. You’re doing them a favor. Hey, it’s summer! Right? 9. Still employed? Point out at work that your employer didn’t schedule you for the two weeks off you really wanted. Do the same at home. Frequently. They need to know how hard it is being you. 10. When in doubt, mope. Your children depend on you to show them how to handle a variety of situations, including a summer that seems less than ideal. Increase their vocabulary by demonstrating what “surly” really means.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, My recent Apostolic Journey to the Holy Land was a pilgrimage to the sources of our faith and a pastoral visit to the Christian communities in the lands of our Lord’s birth, death and resurrection. I am grateful to the civil authorities, the Latin Patriarch and the Bishops of the local Churches, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land and all those who contributed to the journey. Throughout my visit I wished to be a pilgrim of peace, reminding Jews, Christians and Muslims alike of our commitment, as believers in the one God, to promote respect, reconciliation and cooperation in the service of peace. In Jerusalem, “the city of peace” sacred to the followers of the three great monotheistic traditions, this was the message I brought to the holy places, and particularly to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. One of the most solemn moments was the commemoration of the victims of the Shoah at Yad Vashem. My visit to the local Churches culminated in the Masses celebrated in Amman, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. My pilgrimage ended in prayer on Calvary and before the Holy Sepulchre, the empty tomb, which continues to radiate a message of hope for individuals and for the whole human family.

May 22, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 16

in the news

Hazards on the sea

Escalating piracy has roots in fishing encroachment, priest says by PETER FINNEY JR. catholic news service

CNS photo by Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald

Father Sinclair Oubre, president of the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States, celebrates Mass during the group’s national convention in New Orleans May 8.

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NEW ORLEANS — The rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia’s coast has its roots in the encroachment into fishing zones by large fishing vessels from other countries, but that does not excuse the escalating violence launched by pirates against oceangoing vessels, said a priest who has a ministry to seafarers. Father Sinclair Oubre, president of the Apostleship of the Sea USA, made the comments at the group’s annual convention in New Orleans. A priest of the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, Father Oubre also heads the Apostleship of the Sea for his diocese. Speaking May 8, he said port chaplains first began hearing reports of piracy in the Gulf of Aden five to seven years ago. Those disputes mostly involved encroachment on fishing territories, but “because no big Western ships were getting hit, it was no big deal,” Father Oubre said. “It’s good that we are finally paying attention to it.” European fishing ships went to the coast of Somalia and secured “either very advantageous fishing rights or else there was basically no one able to enforce the fishing zones,” Father Oubre said. “Basically those boats began exploiting the area. At the root of the piracy is the Somali fishermen attacking those boats to defend their area.” Those disputes escalated to the point where the attacks were staged and coordinated by Somali warlords, “the same warlords that the U.S. Marines and Army fought back in the 1990s,” Father Oubre said. But this “Robin Hood” motivation “does not justify the piracy,” he added. The pirates have kidnapped ships’ crews and demanded ransom for their release, calling themselves modern-day Robin Hoods trying to get compensation to replace a dwindling livelihood as fishermen. The Apostleship of the Sea convention drew a group of 40 port chaplains and priests involved in ministry on cruise ships. The convention approved a message to seafarers that “irrevocably condemns the issue of piracy and prays for all seafarers who face hazardous shipping routes.”

“An important part of our message to seafarers is to not only recognize the challenges, difficulties and hardships they face but also to acknowledge that what they are doing is essential to the quality of our lives,” Father Oubre said. “If the ships don’t sail, the cars don’t drive in Florida and you don’t get your TVs or your computers. It’s mariners who do that service,” he said. The organization also reaffirmed a resolution it approved in 2008 that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops requires the certification of all port chaplains through a process established by its office. Filipino sailors, most of them Catholic, make up half of the international crews on the world’s merchant marine ships, Father Oubre said. After years of intense security at U.S. ports because of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — keeping virtually all foreign seafarers restricted to their ships when they make port — the U.S. Coast Guard is finally telling port facilities to write “a facility plan that must include procedures for coordinating shore leave,” Father Oubre said. “The frustration for us has been, ‘OK, what is justifying this higher security?’” he said. “There’s a strong feeling in AOS that seafarers have been targeted for higher security, with no justification for it. None of the Sept. 11 attackers were seafarers. None of them had merchant marine documents.” Since 2003, when stricter security rules went into place, a seafarer who signs off a ship to go home “has to be immediately moved from the ship to the airport.” Father Oubre said the restrictions on foreign crews have persuaded U.S. pilots to avoid shuttling vessels between Europe and North America “because it’s a hassle. You’re not going to get the best guys if they can avoid that situation.” Father Oubre, a seafarer himself, cobbles together vacation time to spend three weeks to a month on the seas. “There are hardships and difficulties and dirty work,” he said. “But there are also the wonders of being blessed by watching the sun come up each day and the glory of the heavens at the end of the day.” “To watch the flying fish and the porpoises dance as we plow through the water is a blessing,” he said.

CNS Photo via Reuters

The Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged container ship, is seen in this undated photo released April 8. The crew of the freighter hijacked by pirates off Somalia retook control of the ship April 8 but their captain, Richard Phillips, a parishioner at St. Thomas Church in Underhill Center, Vt., was not freed until April 12 in a dramatic rescue, ending the pirates’ five-day standoff with American naval forces.

May 22, 2009  
May 22, 2009  

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