Society of the Divine Word marks 125 years of ministry in North America

By Dennis Sadowski
ASSISI, Italy (CNS) – Arriving in the United States as a refugee from Vietnam in 1980, Divine Word Father Quang Duc Dinh wasn’t sure what the future held.
“I was naive and innocent,” he told Catholic News Service.
Before long, he was able to begin seminary studies with the Society of the Divine Word, later becoming ordained in 1992.

Brother Wendelin Meyer, seen in an undated photo, was the first member of the missionary Society of the Divine Word to come to the United States, arriving Oct. 15, 1895, after a trip from Germany. He first came to the U.S. to bolster the society’s work at home by reaching out to German-speaking Catholics in New Jersey. (CNS photo/courtesy Society of the Divine Word) .

Today, at 59, he’s the provincial superior of the society’s Chicago province and helping other young men become missionaries to the world.
Father Dinh’s story is one that illustrates the missionary outreach work of the society: to bring the good news of Jesus to others, especially poor and marginalized people, as envisioned by its founder in Steyl, Holland, St. Arnold Janssen, who was canonized in 2003.
The Society of the Divine Word observed its 125th anniversary of the arrival of its first member in the United States Oct. 15. To mark the milestone, the society unveiled an online exhibit at
It takes viewers through the history of the order’s evolution from one man, Brother Wendelin Meyer – who volunteered to travel to the U.S. in the missionary spirit – through the most recent years that find priests of the order’s three U.S. provinces ministering in poor and marginalized communities around the world.
Titled “Empowered by the Word,” the exhibit recaps hallmark moments in the society’s U.S. ministries: the opening of a technical school for orphans in Techny, Illinois, outside of Chicago; the founding of the first seminary to train African American men who wished to become priests and brothers in Mississippi; and the broadening of outreach to marginalized communities in Appalachia beginning in the 1970s, which continues today.
“We serve the poor, minorities and marginalized people,” Father Dinh said.
The Vietnamese priest is a portrait of the multicultural spirit of the society. He is one of about 90 Vietnamese Divine Word priests trained in the U.S. He heads a province of more than 200 priests and brothers of 30 nationalities who serve in parishes in parts of Canada, the United States and several Caribbean island nations. Priests of the society’s Western and Southern U.S. provinces also serve widely.
Worldwide, the society has more than 6,000 members in 80 countries.
Brother Meyer arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, Oct. 15, 1895, seeking German-speaking immigrants, a prime market for the society’s publications. He came to North America to bolster the society’s work at home. He sold magazines and pamphlets to finance his ministry while giving the newcomers a connection with their homeland.
During a trip to Chicago as the society looked for a new location to build its ministry, Brother Meyer learned that a 360-acre farm north of the city – owned by a German Catholic orphanage – was for sale. The property eventually was purchased and became the site of a trade school of orphan boys. It was there that the locale of Techny was born.
Techny today encompasses only the society’s Chicago Province property. It is within the town of Northbrook in Chicago’s sprawling northern suburbs.
Over the years, the society expanded. In 1909, the society opened St. Mary’s Seminary in Techny. It was the first Roman Catholic major seminary for missionaries in the U.S. Other seminaries followed.
Sacred Heart College in Greenville, Mississippi, opened in 1920 as the first seminary for forming African American priests. Within three years, it moved 300 miles south to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, becoming known as St. Augustine Seminary.

The original home of missionaries in Bay St. Louis, Miss., is seen in 1920 on a page of an online exhibit marking the 125th anniversary of the arrival of the first Society of Divine Word missionary in the United States. The society later opened St. Augustine Seminary in Bay St. Louis as a successor to its Sacred Heart Seminary in Greenville, Miss., which the order established as the first institution for forming African American men wishing to become priests or brothers. (CNS photo/courtesy Society of the Divine Word)

Other schools and seminaries followed in places such as Girard, Pennsylvania; Duxbury, Massachusetts; Bordentown, New Jersey; Conesus, New York; East Troy, Wisconsin; Perrysburg, Ohio; and Granby, Quebec. Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, educates men and women for missionary service as priests, brothers, sisters and lay ministers today.
Father Dinh said the society’s work in the U.S. has welcomed the opportunity to reach out to marginalized people. For example, Divine Word priests ministered to German Americans who were targeted for discrimination during both world wars, Japanese Americans interred during World War II, and African Americans who struggled generations after slavery ended.
Today, Father Dinh said, the effort focuses in many U.S. communities on Latino newcomers as well as immigrants from Poland and elsewhere. In Appalachia today, food programs benefit poor children. And in Jamaica, Antigua and elsewhere, Divine Word priests live in poverty like the people they serve.
The work continues to stem from the prophetic vision Brother Meyer first saw when he arrived in New Jersey, Father Dinh explained.
“It’s part of God’s plan,” he said. “It’s unfolding in history right now.”

(Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski)

Beatified teen showed that heaven is ‘attainable goal,’

By Junno Arocho Esteves
ASSISI, Italy (CNS) – Thousands sang and applauded as Italian teen Carlo Acutis was beatified in a town dear to him and to many Christians around the world: Assisi.
During the Oct. 10 beatification Mass, Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate for the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, read Pope Francis’ apostolic letter proclaiming Acutis’ “blessed,” the step before canonization.
“With our apostolic authority, we grant that the venerable servant of God, Carlo Acutis, layman, who, with the enthusiasm of youth, cultivated a friendship with our Lord Jesus, placing the Eucharist and the witness of charity at the center of his life, henceforth shall be called blessed,” the pope decreed.
After the reading of the apostolic letter, the newly beatified teen’s parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, processed toward the altar carrying a reliquary containing their son’s heart.
The reliquary was engraved with one of the teen’s well-known quotes: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.”
Pilgrims flocked both to the Basilica of St. Francis for the beatification Mass as well as to the Shrine of the Renunciation at the Church of St. Mary Major, where the newly beatified teen’s remains were on display for veneration.
Men and women, boys and girls passed by the tomb quietly, some stopping to pray the “Our Father.” A young toddler blew a kiss goodbye to the young blessed as she passed by.

Known as the site where a young St. Francis renounced his father’s inheritance and embraced poverty, the shrine – like the city of Assisi and St. Francis himself – held a special place in Acutis’ heart.
The teen loved St. Francis “very much,” his mother, Antonia Salzano, told Catholic News Service Oct. 9. St. Francis “was a very Eucharistic soul who used to attend Mass twice a day,” and her son sought to imitate that same Eucharistic devotion throughout his brief life.
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi reflected on the link between the two saintly figures, and proclaimed that by “providential design, (St.) Francis and (Blessed) Carlo are now inseparable.”
“Carlo’s life – always united to Jesus – his love for the Eucharist, his devotion to the Holy Virgin, his making friends with the poor, brought him closer to the spirituality of the Poor One,” St. Francis, Archbishop Sorrentino said at the end of Mass. “Both invite us to live according to the Gospel.”
The liturgy was held inside the Basilica of St. Francis, but measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 meant that most of those attending sat outside on seats set three-feet apart, watching on big screens.
Many young men and women came to Assisi for the beatification. For many of them, the fact that a normal teen could be beatified was a source of hope and inspiration.
“With his life, Carlo made me see that despite the small or even great difficulties – like his illness – that we could live a full and happy life if we keep our eyes looking up toward heaven,” said 19-year-old Rosanna, who was among those attending the beatification.
In his homily, Cardinal Vallini said that Acutis’ beatification “in the land of Francis of Assisi is good news, a strong proclamation that a young man of our time, one like many, was conquered by Christ and became a beacon of light for those who want to know him and follow his example.”
Reflecting on the teen’s life, Cardinal Vallini said that like most young people his age, Carlo was a “normal, simple, spontaneous, friendly” teenager who used modern forms of communication to transmit the “values and beauty of the Gospel.”
For him, “the internet was not just a means of escape, but a space for dialogue, knowledge, sharing and mutual respect that was to be used responsibly, without becoming slaves to it and rejecting digital bullying,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Vallini said that Blessed Acutis was a model of virtue for young men and women today, reminding them not to seek “gratification only in ephemeral successes but in the perennial values that Jesus proposes in the Gospel.”
“He gave witness that faith does not distance us from life but immerses us more deeply in it and showed us the concrete way to live the joy of the Gospel,” the cardinal said. “It is up to us to follow it, attracted by the fascinating experience of Blessed Carlo, so that our lives may also shine with light and hope.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Vatican reaffirms, clarifies church teachings on end-of-life care

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – With the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia in many countries, and questions concerning what is morally permissible regarding end-of-life care, the Vatican’s doctrinal office released a 25-page letter offering “a moral and practical clarification” on the care of vulnerable patients.
“The church is convinced of the necessity to reaffirm as definitive teaching that euthanasia is a crime against human life because, in this act, one chooses directly to cause the death of another innocent human being,” the document said.
Titled, “’Samaritanus bonus,’ on the Care of Persons in the Critical and Terminal Phases of Life,” the letter by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was approved by Pope Francis in June, and released to the public Sept. 22.
A new, “systematic pronouncement by the Holy See” was deemed necessary given a growing, global trend in legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide, and changing attitudes and rules that harm the dignity of vulnerable patients, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, congregation prefect, said at a Vatican news conference Sept. 22.
It was also necessary to reaffirm church teaching regarding the administration of the sacraments to and pastoral care of patients who expressly request a medical end to their life, he said.

A patient is pictured in a file photo chatting with a nun at Rosary Hill Home, a Dominican-run facility in Hawthorne, N.Y., that provides palliative care to people with incurable cancer and have financial need. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

“In order to receive absolution in the sacrament of penance, as well as with the anointing of the sick and the viaticum,” he said, the patients must demonstrate their intention to reverse their decision to end their life and to cancel their registration with any group appointed to grant their desire for euthanasia or assisted suicide.
In the letter’s section on “Pastoral discernment toward those who request euthanasia or assisted suicide,” it said a “priest could administer the sacraments to an unconscious person ‘sub condicione’ if, on the basis of some signal given by the patient beforehand, he can presume his or her repentance.”
The church’s ministers can still accompany patients who have made these end-of-life directives, it added, by showing “a willingness to listen and to help, together with a deeper explanation of the nature of the sacrament, in order to provide the opportunity to desire and choose the sacrament up to the last moment.”
It is important to carefully look for “adequate signs of conversion, so that the faithful can reasonably ask for the reception of the sacraments. To delay absolution is a medicinal act of the church, intended not to condemn, but to lead the sinner to conversion,” it said.
However, it added, “those who spiritually assist these persons should avoid any gesture, such as remaining until the euthanasia is performed, that could be interpreted as approval of this action.”
Chaplains, too, must show care “in the health care systems where euthanasia is practiced, for they must not give scandal by behaving in a manner that makes them complicit in the termination of human life,” the letter said.
Another warning in the letter regarded medical end-of-life protocols, such as “do not resuscitate orders” or “physician orders for life-sustaining treatment” and any of their variations.
These protocols “were initially thought of as instruments to avoid aggressive medical treatment in the terminal phases of life. Today, these protocols cause serious problems regarding the duty to protect the life of patients in the most critical stages of sickness,” it said.
On the one hand, it said, “medical staff feel increasingly bound by the self-determination expressed in patient declarations that deprive physicians of their freedom and duty to safeguard life even where they could do so.”
“On the other hand, in some health care settings, concerns have recently arisen about the widely reported abuse of such protocols viewed in a euthanistic perspective with the result that neither patients nor families are consulted in final decisions about care,” it said.
“This happens above all in the countries where, with the legalization of euthanasia, wide margins of ambiguity are left open in end-of-life law regarding the meaning of obligations to provide care.”
The church, however, “is obliged to intervene in order to exclude once again all ambiguity in the teaching of the magisterium concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide, even where these practices have been legalized,” it said.
Euthanasia involves “an action or an omission which of itself or by intention causes death, in order that all pain may in this way be eliminated.”
Its definition depends on “the intention of the will and in the methods used,” it added.
The letter reaffirmed that “any formal or immediate material cooperation in such an act is a grave sin against human life,” making euthanasia “an act of homicide that no end can justify and that does not tolerate any form of complicity or active or passive collaboration.”
For that reason, “those who approve laws of euthanasia and assisted suicide, therefore, become accomplices of a grave sin that others will execute. They are also guilty of scandal because by such laws they contribute to the distortion of conscience, even among the faithful.”
The letter also underlined a patient’s right to decline aggressive medical treatment and “die with the greatest possible serenity and with one’s proper human and Christian dignity intact” when approaching the natural end of life.
“The renunciation of treatments that would only provide a precarious and painful prolongation of life can also mean respect for the will of the dying person as expressed in advanced directives for treatment, excluding however every act of a euthanistic or suicidal nature,” it said.
However, it also underlined the rights of physicians as never being “a mere executor of the will of patients or their legal representatives, but retains the right and obligation to withdraw at will from any course of action contrary to the moral good discerned by conscience.”
Other aspects of end-of-life care the letter detailed included: the obligation to provide basic care of nutrition and hydration; the need for holistic palliative care; support for families and hospice care; the required accompaniment and care for unborn and newly-born children diagnosed with a terminal disease; the use of “deep palliative sedation”; obligation of care for patients in a “vegetative state” or with minimal consciousness; and conscientious objection by health care workers.

‘Together Strong: Life Unites’ is theme of March for Life set for Jan. 29

By Kurt Jensen
The Sept. 10 announcement of the theme for the March for Life – “Together Strong: Life Unites” – made it clear the annual national event, in some form, will proceed next Jan. 29.
But details of how the march, rally and pro-life conference, which together have drawn as many as 100,000 participants in past years, will cope with COVID-19 self-quarantine restrictions in the District of Columbia were not part of the announcement.
Asked on EWTN’s “Pro-Life Weekly” program that evening about whether people should start making plans, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said: “You know, everybody has to make that decision on their own. You know, considering their own situations, et cetera.”

WASHINGTON – Pictured left to right, Cole Turner, Isabelle Comfort, Maggie Henderson and Alexia Balderas of the Catholic Campus Ministry of Mississippi State at the 2020 March for Life event. March for Life is set to take place on Jan. 29, 2021 with the theme ‘Together Strong: Life Unites.’ (Photo courtesy of Meg Ferguson)

She added, “But I certainly would be (making plans), and I obviously will be there this year. I think that standing for life and standing for inherent human dignity of every life from conception to natural death is all the more important this year when there is so much unrest, so much division in our country. We need to show that we are stronger together and that love and life unite us. They make us stronger.”
In July, Mancini had said “we will continue to discern throughout this year what steps should be taken,” regarding pandemic restrictions.
Social distancing and masks aren’t the issue. Washington health authorities require a 14-day self-quarantine for visitors “participating in nonessential travel” from high-risk areas. The quarantine is adjusted every two weeks, and as of Sept. 8, was extended to visitors from 30 states.
That’s a particular obstacle for the many high school and college groups who arrive on long-distance bus rides which have, over the decades, become the pulse of the event.
“If D.C. is still requiring a two-week quarantine for out-of-state travelers, I don’t see a way for us to attend,” said Ed Konieczka, assistant director of university ministry at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. “We are taking care of the details that we can, and recognizing which things are out of our control.”
The university typically sends around 200 students and staff members to the march, and in 2018, some 20 students flanked President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House when he addressed the Mall rally on a video link. This past January, Trump addressed the rally in person, becoming the first president to do so.
The alternative to a Washington trip, Konieczka said, will be a rally that day in Bismarck. “We have been approached by the Diocese of Bismarck with a request to coordinate efforts to have the biggest March for Life event ever at our state capital. We have a shared vision for a large event, where any of our students unable to travel to D.C. will join with members of the diocese.”
Planners of state marches face the same uncertainty. “Right now with COVID and the restrictions, we are playing it by ear in Chicago,” said Denise Zabor, office manager for Illinois Right to Life.
March for Life has taken place in Washington every January since 1974. It’s always held on a date near the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 rulings, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion on demand.

Pro-life advocates gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 27, 2017, during the annual March for Life in Washington. Officials with the March for Life organization in Washington announced Sept. 10, 2020, the theme for the 2021 national rally and march marking the Roe anniversary will be “Together Strong: Life Unites.” The event will take place in some form Jan. 29. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

“I believe it’s the rallying point for all of pro-life America,” said Dave Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, who co-hosted the theme announcement with Mancini.
The announcement video included a cameo from Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime supporter of the March for Life, who said: “Stand for life. Because life is winning.”
On Sept. 3, the Trump campaign, in a letter to a coalition calling itself “Pro-Life Voices for Trump,” cited how the president has been “transforming the federal judiciary” by appointing federal judges and Supreme Court justices “who would not legislate an abortion agenda from the bench.”
The letter also promised to work for the passage of what’s called the “pain-capable” abortion ban, which has criminal penalties for abortions performed when an unborn child is in at least the 20th week of gestation; supporters of the measure cite scientific research showing a fetus at that stage can feel pain. Passage has been blocked by House Democrats and the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.
Trump also expressed support for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act sponsored by Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, which would codify an end to federal funding for abortion such as that received by Planned Parenthood.

(Editor’s Note: The March for Life website,, provides visitors to the site a way to sign up for updates on the Jan. 29 event.)

Annual audit shows more than 4,400 allegations of clergy abuse reported

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – More than 4,400 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy were reported during the year ending June 30, 2019, a significant jump from the previous auditing period, according to a report on diocesan and eparchial compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
Released June 25, the 17th annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection states that 4,220 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,434 allegations. In the 2017-2018 audit period, 1,381 survivors filed 1,451 allegations.
While the number jumped, the report said only 37 allegations involved current minors. Of these, the report said, eight allegations were substantiated, seven were unsubstantiated, six were unable to be proven, 12 remained under investigation, three were referred to religious orders and one was referred to another diocese.
The report attributed 37% of the new allegations to lawsuits, the introduction of victim compensation programs by dioceses and eparchies, and bankruptcies. An additional 3% of allegations emerged after a review of clergy personnel files, according to the report.
The allegations involved 2,982 clerics, including 2,623 priests, 46 deacons, 260 unknown persons and 53 others.
A breakdown of the allegations shows that 1,034 were substantiated, 147 were unsubstantiated, 1,434 were unable to be proven and 956 remained under investigation. Another 863 allegations were classified as “other,” meaning they were referred to a provincial superior when involving a cleric from a religious order or their status was “unknown.”
Conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, the report covers the year from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. The firm’s auditors visited 64 dioceses and eparchies and collected data from 130 more.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington, gathers data for the annual audit report.
The report comes as the U.S. bishops have taken steps in response to Pope Francis’ “motu proprio” “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the Light of the World”), which was issued after the first global meeting of bishops to discuss the protection of minors in February 2019.
The papal document set new rules and procedures to hold bishops and religious superiors are accountable for abuse allegations made against them for committing abuse or mishandling abuse claims.
The U.S. bishops at their fall general assembly in November affirmed their episcopal commitment to hold themselves accountable for the handling of abuse claims. They have since implemented the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service to accept sexual misconduct allegations against bishops and eparchs.
The mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop.
Despite such steps, Francesco Cesareo, chair of the all-lay National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, noted that questions remain about whether the “audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”
In a letter to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, USCCB president, that accompanied the report, Cesareo said revelations of episcopal wrongdoing, the establishment of compensation programs for abuse survivors, and a growing desire among laity for greater involvement in addressing clerical abuse led to questions arising about the audit process.
He said evidence in the audits also shows continuing “signs of complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses.”
Cesareo also commended 27 of the dioceses visited by StoneBridge auditors for conducting parish and school audits, a step that is not required under the charter.
He said review board members continue to believe such audits are important. “Until this occurs and every diocese implements parish audits, it is difficult to conclude that a diocese has indeed established a culture of safety,” he wrote.
In a preface to the report, Archbishop Gomez, apologized to everyone who has “endured abuse at the hands of someone in the church” and said a “pastoral commitment” remains for “helping every victim-survivor find healing and hope.”

This is the cover of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection annual report on dioceses’ compliance with the USCCB’s “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It was released June 25, 2020. (CNS photo/USCCB)

Citing the 37 allegations from current minors, Archbishop Gomez described that a key finding of the report is that “new cases of sexual misconduct by priests involving minors are rare today in the Catholic Church in the United States.”
Three dioceses were found in noncompliance with the charter:
– The Diocese of Oakland, California, for failing to evaluate the background of a visiting priest; the diocese later addressed the shortcoming.
– The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia for not having a functioning review board; the archeparchy addressed the issue by naming new members and convening the body.
– The St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy, based in Chicago, for not having a working review board.
Three other entities chose not to participate including the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace of the U.S. and Canada, based in New York; the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, based in El Cajon, California; and the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas of Chicago.
Under canon law, dioceses and eparchies cannot be required to participate in the audit, but it is strongly recommended that they do.
The audit collected information regarding the gender of those reporting abuse, the age when abuse is alleged to have started and the year an alleged offense occurred or began.
The data show that 82% of survivors were male and 18% were female. For 22% of survivors, the alleged abuse began at age 9, 59% from age 10 to 14, 19% from 15 to 17.
When the time frame of an alleged incident could be determined, auditors found that 57% of new accusations occurred or began before 1975, 41% occurred from 1975 to 1999 and 2% have occurred since 2000.
In addition, 88% of alleged perpetrators were priests who had been ordained for the diocese or eparchy in which the abuse was alleged to have occurred. And 57% of the 1,391 priests and deacons identified as alleged offenders had already been identified in reports from previous years, the report said.
Dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported paying out $281,611,817 for costs related to allegations during the audit year. The amount includes payments for allegations reported in previous years. The payout figure is just under the amount reported the previous year.

(Editor’s Note: The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found online at

Knights ‘praying for years’ for beatification

By Kurt Jensen
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, may be an ideal prospective saint for the current age, said Carl A. Anderson, supreme knight of the international fraternal order.
“We’ve been praying for years for this to occur, and finally this day has arrived,” he told Catholic News Service May 27.
First, he’s a pro-life hero. The miracle recognized by the Vatican paving the way for his beatification occurred in 2015 and involved an U.S. baby, still in utero, with a life-threatening condition that, under most circumstances, could have led to an abortion.
He was found to be healed after his family prayed to Father McGivney. “The Vatican likes to be the one to discuss more details than that,” Anderson said.
The Vatican announced early May 27 that Pope Francis, who met with the board of directors of the Knights of Columbus in February, had signed the decree recognizing the miracle through the intercession of Father McGivney. Once he is beatified, he will be given the title “Blessed.”
Father McGivney (1852-1890), ordained a priest for what is now the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. The fraternal order for Catholic men has become the largest lay Catholic organization in the world with 2 million members and sponsors a wide range of educational, charitable and religious activities.

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, clearing the way for his beatification. Father McGivney is pictured in an undated portrait. (CNS file photo)

The initial work on his sainthood cause began in 1982 on the Knights’ centenary. His cause was formally opened in Hartford in 1997, and he was given the title “servant of God.” In March 2008, the Catholic Church recognized the priest heroically lived the Christian virtues, so he was given the title “venerable.”
His beatification ceremony will be held in Connecticut sometime this fall – like all other events, scheduling is uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic – “and sometime after that, we’ll be looking for another miracle,” Anderson said.
Generally, two miracles attributed to the candidate’s intercession are required for sainthood – one for beatification and the second for canonization.
Father McGivney, who will be the first American parish priest to be beatified and has long been a hero of working-class Catholics, can be viewed as a martyr of a pandemic. When he died from pneumonia complications at age 38 in 1890, it was during an outbreak of influenza known as the Russian flu in Thomaston, Connecticut. Some recent evidence, according to the Knights, indicates the outbreak may have been the result of a coronavirus.
Anderson praised Father McGivney’s modesty and “dedication to charity and unity and the way he embodied the good Samaritan” after founding the Knights of Columbus, originally a service organization to help widows and orphans, in New Haven. At the time, Father McGivney, the son of Irish immigrants, who was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, was an assistant pastor at St. Mary’s Parish. He is buried in New Haven.
“Father McGivney did not want to be the leader of the Knights of Columbus,” Anderson observed. “He was at first the group’s secretary and then the chaplain.”
Further, Father McGivney’s legacy also includes “the empowerment of the laity” through service projects, Anderson said. “His work anticipated the Second Vatican Council. He created a universal call to holiness that gave the laity a way to be more faithful Catholics. He provided a mechanism for them to go into society and make a difference.”

(Editor’s Note: The Knights have set up a new website for Father McGivney’s sainthood cause:

Bishops ‘sickened’ by Floyd’s death, say racism ‘real and present danger’

By Julie Asher
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Catholic bishops said May 29 they “are broken-hearted, sickened and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes.”
“What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion,” they said in a statement about the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
In recent weeks, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African American man in Georgia, was fatally shot ,and three white men were arrested and are facing murder charges in his death. In March, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, died at the hands of white police officers when they entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient,” the bishops said. “It is a real and present danger that must be met head on.”
“As members of the church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference,” they said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy and justice.”
“Indifference is not an option,” they emphasized and stated “unequivocally” that “racism is a life issue.”
The statement was issued by the chairmen of seven committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell of Los Angeles, Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry of Chicago, Subcommittee on African American Affairs.
Floyd, 46, was arrested by police on suspicion of forgery. Once he was handcuffed, a white officer pinned him down on the street, putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes. A now widely circulated video shows Floyd repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” He appears to lose consciousness or die and was later declared dead at the hospital.
The next day, hundreds of people protested at the intersection where police officers subdued Floyd, demanding justice for him and the arrest of the four officers involved. The officers were fired May 26 and as of midday May 29, local prosecutors filed criminal charges against at least one of the now former officers: The one seen putting his knee on Floyd’s neck, identified as Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The federal Justice Department promised a “robust” investigation into the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death.
Protests in Minneapolis have turned to violent demonstrations and lasted several days, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to bring in the National Guard May 29. The protests sparked similar rioting in at least a dozen U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, New York, Louisville, and Columbus, Ohio.
The bishops in their statement pointed to their “Open Wide Our Hearts” pastoral against racism approved by the body of bishops in 2018. In it, they said: “For people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives.”
In their May 29 statement, the committee chairmen called for an end to the violence taking place in the wake of the tragedy in Minneapolis but also said they “stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged.”
They joined with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in praying for the repose of the soul of Floyd “and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner.”
In anticipation of the feast of Pentecost, May 31, they called on all Catholics “to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit” and pray to “to rid ourselves of the harm that bias and prejudice cause.”
“We call upon Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit for the spirit of truth to touch the hearts of all in the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law enforcement systems,” the bishops said urged every Catholic, regardless of ethnicity, to “beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.”
Here is the full text of their statement:
We are broken-hearted, sickened and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes. What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.
Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.
While it is expected that we will plead for peaceful nonviolent protests, and we certainly do, we also stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged. Too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life.
As we said eighteen months ago in our most recent pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” for people of color some interactions with police can be fraught with fear and even danger. People of good conscience must never turn a blind eye when citizens are being deprived of their human dignity and even their lives. Indifference is not an option. As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.”

Protesters in Minneapolis gather at the scene May 27, 2020, where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital May 25. (CNS photo/Eric Miller, Reuters)

We join Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis in praying for the repose of the soul of Mr. George Floyd and all others who have lost their lives in a similar manner. We plead for an end to the violence in the wake of this tragedy and for the victims of the rioting. We pray for comfort for grieving families and friends. We pray for peace across the United States, particularly in Minnesota, while the legal process moves forward. We also anticipate a full investigation that results in rightful accountability and actual justice.
We join our brother bishops to challenge everyone to come together, particularly with those who are from different cultural backgrounds. In this encounter, let us all seek greater understanding amongst God’s people. So many people who historically have been disenfranchised continue to experience sadness and pain, yet they endeavor to persevere and remain people of great faith. We encourage our pastors to encounter and more authentically accompany them, listen to their stories, and learn from them, finding substantive ways to enact systemic change. Such encounters will start to bring about the needed transformation of our understanding of true life, charity, and justice in the United States. Hopefully, then there will be many voices speaking out and seeking healing against the evil of racism in our land.
As we anticipate the Solemnity of Pentecost this weekend, we call upon all Catholics to pray and work toward a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for a supernatural desire to rid ourselves of the harm that bias and prejudice cause. We call upon Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit for the spirit of truth to touch the hearts of all in the United States and to come down upon our criminal justice and law enforcement systems. Finally, let each and every Catholic, regardless of their ethnicity, beg God to heal our deeply broken view of each other, as well as our deeply broken society.

Editor’s Note: The full text of the bishops’ 2108 pastoral against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts,” can be found online at


WASHINGTON (CNS) – Dos encuestas separadas muestran que los estadounidenses confían más en su fe para ayudar a perseverar durante la pandemia de coronavirus. El Centro de Investigación Pew, en una encuesta publicada el 30 de abril, mostró que casi un cuarto de todos los estadounidenses dice que su fe se ha fortalecido durante la pandemia, mientras que solo el 2% dijo que se había debilitado.
NUEVA ORLEANS (CNS) – Citando las crecientes preocupaciones sobre el impacto financiero de resoluciones extrajudiciales por abuso sexual del clero y la pandemia de coronavirus, la Arquidiócesis de Nueva Orleans solicitó el Capítulo 11 la reorganización de las finanzas de sus oficinas administrativas el 1 de mayo en el Tribunal de Bancarrota de los Estados Unidos para el Distrito Este de Luisiana.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Con las colecciones del ofertorio de la misa dominical prácticamente inexistentes durante la pandemia de coronavirus, las diócesis ayudan a las parroquias a encontrar ingresos, incluidos los fondos PPP, en fuentes de ingresos para ayudar a evitar que una crisis se convierta en una segunda crisis, en medio de la pandemia. La última indicación es que alrededor de 8,000 de las 17,000 parroquias de los Estados Unidos han solicitado préstamos con éxito.

COVID-19 coronavirus in USA, 100 dollar money bill with face mask. Coronavirus affects global stock market. World economy hit by corona virus outbreak and pandemic fears. Crisis and finance concept.

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – El Papa Francisco en sus misas matutinas ha estado rezando por:
• Periodistas y miembros de los medios de comunicación que, a pesar de los riesgos, trabajan incansablemente para informar al público de la pandemia en curso.
• Los sacerdotes y los médicos que dieron su vida cuidando el bienestar espiritual y físico de los demás durante la pandemia de coronavirus son como Jesús, el buen pastor, que dio su vida por su rebaño.
• Familias de todo el mundo que han sido restringidas a sus hogares debido a la pandemia de COVID-19, el Papa Francisco incluyó la mención de víctimas de violencia doméstica.
• Los trabajadores, especialmente a aquellos pagados injusta o virtualmente esclavizados en la fiesta de San José el Trabajador, celebrada también como el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores y como el Día del Trabajo en muchos países.
CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNS) – Caritas Honduras ha pedido transparencia en la distribución de la asistencia COVID-19, que, de acuerdo con un creciente aumento de las acusaciones, se ha utilizado con fines políticos en el país empobrecido y plagado de corrupción. El padre German Calix, director de Caritas Honduras, dijo a Catholic News Service que el brazo caritativo de la iglesia quería una investigación para “probar o refutar” las acusaciones de suministros médicos que se compran a precios inflados y de funcionarios locales, responsables de proporcionar alimentos a las personas en cuarentena, que solo ofrecen asistencia a los afiliados al partido político en el poder.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – La vendedora callejera Marisol Maradiaga, que vive en la calle después de no poder seguir pagando el alquiler, juega con sus hijos en el 23 de abril de 2020, durante la pandemia de COVID-19. (Foto del CNS/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters)

SAO PAULO (CNS) – La conferencia de los obispos brasileños elogió un fallo de la Corte Suprema de que las mujeres infectadas con el virus Zika no podían abortar. “No corresponde a ninguna autoridad pública reconocer selectivamente el derecho a la vida, asegurándolo a algunos y negándolo a otros”, dijeron los obispos.
LIMA, Perú (CNS) – Los líderes católicos advierten que a medida que la pandemia de coronavirus se extienda a la cuenca del Amazonas, la región podría enfrentar una “tragedia humanitaria y ambiental”. Las personas indígenas que sufren violencia por sus esfuerzos para defender sus tierras contra mineros, madereros y acaparadores de tierras también corren un gran riesgo debido a COVID-19, según un comunicado de la Red de Iglesias Pan-Amazonas, REPAM. “El dolor y el lamento de la gente y la tierra se unen en un solo grito”, escribieron en la declaración, fechada el 18 de mayo.

A nurse adjusts an oxygen tank next to a tent for COVID-19 patients in the parking lot of a hospital in Lima, Peru, April 16, 2020. As coronavirus cases surge in Peru’s two largest LIMA, Perú – Una enfermera ajusta un tanque de oxígeno junto a una carpa para pacientes con COVID-19 en el estacionamiento de un hospital el 16 de abril de 2020. A medida que aumentan los casos de coronavirus en las dos ciudades amazónicas más grandes de Perú, Iquitos y Pucallpa, los líderes católicos estan luchando por encontrar formas de proporcionar a los enfermos la necesidad de salud más básica, oxígeno vital. (Foto del CNS/Sebastián Castaneda, Reuters).

Católicos unen esfuerzos para ayudar en Puerto Rico

Por Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – El huracán María fue un duro golpe para Puerto Rico en 2017. Luego vino la serie de terremotos y réplicas que comenzaron el 29 de diciembre, con uno de magnitud 6.4 el 11 de enero, que ha resultado en dos muertes y pérdidas incalculables en daños a la propiedad.
El arzobispo Roberto González Nieves, de San Juan dijo “Vi a varias personas en Ponce ahora con sus maletas y buscando un lugar para encontrar refugio”. El arzobispo González agregó que la gente duerme en tiendas de campaña y pasa la mayor parte de sus horas de vigilia al aire libre, notó, temiendo que una réplica pueda causar que más casas se derrumben. Otro temor es la gente que no sabe de dónde vendrá su próxima comida.

A woman in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, walks in front of a damaged church Jan. 9, 2020, after an earthquake struck the area two days earlier. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

Pope prays for dialogue as tensions mount between U.S., Iran

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis led pilgrims in prayers for peace as tensions between the United States and Iran escalated following the assassination of a top Iranian general.
Several days after Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, warned of “harsh retaliation” for the Jan. 3 U.S. drone attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the pope said that “a terrible air of tension is felt in many parts of the world.”
“War only brings death and destruction. I call on all parties to keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-control and avoid the shadow of enmity,” the pope said after praying the Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5.
He then led the pilgrims in a moment of silent prayer so “that the Lord may give us the grace” of peace.
The drone strike, which killed Soleimani and six other people, including an Iraqi militia commander, caused a sharp escalation in already tense relations after President Donald Trump pulled out of nuclear deal with Iran last year.
In an interview with CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump’s decision and said that Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent.”

Mourners touch the casket of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani during his funeral procession in Tehran Jan. 6, 2020. The military leader was killed Jan. 3 in a U.S. drone airstrike at Baghdad International Airport. (CNS photo/Khamenei website handout via Reuters)

Shortly after the Iranian general’s death, the United States deployed an additional 3,000 troops to the Middle East to stave off any retaliatory attacks against forces in the region.
However, the attack was seen by world leaders as an unnecessary provocation that could further destabilize the Middle East.
Speaking to Vatican News Jan. 3, Archbishop Leo Boccardi, apostolic nuncio to Iran, said the assassination “creates apprehension and shows us how difficult it is to build and believe in peace.”
“The appeal is to lower tension, to call everyone to negotiation and to believe in dialogue knowing that, has history has always shown us, that war and weapons aren’t the solution to the problems afflicting the world today,” Archbishop Boccardi said.
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