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St. Peter Damian

On Feb. 21, Catholics honor Saint Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk who strove to purify the Church during the early years of its second millennium. In his Sept. 9, 2009 general audience on the saint, Pope Benedict XVI described him as "one of the most significant figures of the 11th century ... a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform."Born during 1007 in the Italian city of Ravenna, Peter belonged to a large family but lost both his father and mother early in life. An older brother took the boy into his household, yet treated him poorly. But another of Peter’s brothers, a priest, took steps to provide for his education; and the priest's own name, Damian, became his younger brother’s surname.Peter excelled in school while also taking up forms of asceticism, such as fasting, wearing a hair shirt, and spending long hours in prayer with an emphasis on reciting the Psalms. He offered hospitality to the poor as a means of serving Christ, and eventually resolved to embrace voluntary poverty himself through the Order of Saint Benedict. The monks he chose to join, in the hermitage of Fonte Avellana, lived out their devotion to the Cross of Christ through a rigorous rule of life. They lived mainly on bread and water, prayed all 150 Psalms daily, and practiced many physical mortifications. Peter embraced this way of life somewhat excessively at first, which led to a bout with insomnia.Deeply versed in the Bible and the writings of earlier theologians, Peter developed his own theological acumen and became a skilled preacher. The leaders of other monasteries sought his help to build up their monks in holiness, and in 1043 he took up a position of leadership as the prior of Fonte Avellana. Five other hermitages were established under his direction.Serious corruption plagued the Church during Peter's lifetime, including the sale of religious offices and immorality among many of the clergy. Through his writings and involvements in controversies of the day, the prior of Fonte Avellana called on members of the hierarchy and religious orders to live out their commitments and strive for holiness.In 1057, Pope Stephen IX became determined to make Peter Damian a bishop, a goal he accomplished only by demanding the monk's obedience under threat of excommunication. Consecrated as the Bishop of Ostia in November of that year, he also joined the College of Cardinals and wrote a letter encouraging its members to set an example for the whole Church.With Pope Stephen's death in 1058, and the election of his successor Nicholas II, Peter's involvement in Church controversies grew. He supported Pope Nicholas against a rival claimant to the papacy, and went to Milan as the Pope's representative when a crisis broke out over canonical and moral issues. There, he was forced to confront rioters who rejected papal authority.Peter, meanwhile, wished to withdraw from these controversies and return to the contemplative life. But Nicholas' death in 1061 caused another papal succession crisis, which the cardinal-bishop helped to resolve in favor of Alexander II. That Pope kept the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia occupied with a series of journeys and negotiations for the next six years. In 1067, Peter Damian was allowed to resign his episcopate and return to the monastery at Fonte Avellana. Two years later, however, Pope Alexander needed his help to prevent the German King Henry IV from divorcing his wife. Peter lived another two years in the monastery before making a pilgrimage to Monte Cassino, the birthplace of the Benedictine order. In 1072, Peter returned to his own birthplace of Ravenna, to reconcile the local church with the Pope. The monk's last illness came upon him during his return from this final task, and he died after a week at a Benedictine monastery in Faenza during February of that year. Never formally canonized, St. Peter Damian was celebrated as a saint after his death in many of the places associated with his life. In 1823, Pope Leo XII named him a Doctor of the Church and extended the observance of his feast day throughout the Western Church.

Winning by losing

Pencil Preaching for Friday, February 21, 2020

US bishops: Pope Francis talks Fr. James Martin, euthanasia, at private meeting

Vatican City, Feb 20, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- During a private meeting with bishops from the southwestern United States, Pope Francis talked about his 2019 meeting with Fr. James Martin, SJ, and about pastoral care and assisted suicide.

The pope met Feb. 10 for more than two hours with bishops from New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

Several bishops present at the meeting told CNA that in addition to discussions about his then-pending exhortation on the Amazon region, and on the challenges of transgenderism and gender ideology, Pope Francis discussed his Sept. 30 meeting with Martin, an American Jesuit who is well-known for speaking and writing about the Church’s ministry to people who identify themselves as LGBT.

"The Holy Father's disposition was very clear, he was most displeased about the whole subject of Fr. Martin and how their encounter had been used. He was very expressive, both his words and his face -  his anger was very clear, he felt he'd been used," one bishop told CNA.

Martin met with Pope Francis shortly after a Sept. 19 column by Archbishop Charles Chaput criticized “a pattern of ambiguity” in Martin’s work, which Chaput said “tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing.”

“I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims,” Chaput added.

The meeting between Martin and the pope was taken by some as a response to Chaput’s column.

The meeting took place in a papal library ordinarily reserved for high-level audiences with the pope, which some journalists saw as a significant decision.

“By choosing to meet him in this place, Pope Francis was making a public statement. In some ways, the meeting was the message,” America Magazine reported of the encounter.

But bishops who met with the pope this week said that while Pope Francis had accommodated a request for a meeting with Martin, he was clear with them that he did not intend for it to convey any significance.

In fact, one bishop at the meeting told CNA that Pope Francis has said he “made his displeasure clear” about the way the meeting was interpreted, and framed by some journalists.

"He told us that the matter had been dealt with; that Fr. Martin had been given a 'talking to' and that his superiors had also been spoken to and made the situation perfectly clear to him," another bishop said.

"I do not think you will be seeing that picture of him with the pope on his next book cover," the bishop told CNA.

For his part, Martin told CNA Feb. 20 that “I can't comment on what the Holy Father told me, since he asked me not to share the details with the media, other than to say that I felt profoundly inspired, consoled and encouraged by our half-hour audience in the Apostolic Palace, which came at his invitation.”

Two bishops told CNA that Martin’s work in regards to the LGBT community was also discussed with the heads of numerous Vatican congregations, and that some officials expressed concern about aspects of the priest’s work.

According to bishops present at the papal meeting, Pope Francis also spoke about euthanasia, and was asked about comments from Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who said at a December symposium that priests should “let go of the rules” in order to be present with people who have initiated assisted suicide.

At the symposium Paglia mentioned that he would be hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see such an action as lending implicit support for the practice.

Pope Francis apparently told bishops that while priests must love mercifully those who have terminal illnesses, they can not “accompany” someone who is in the act of suicide, which the Catholic Church teaches to be gravely immoral.

One bishop told CNA that the same matter was brought up with the heads of Vatican offices, and “they were really clear that what [Paglia] said was a big problem, and that other bishops have brought it up.”

Vatican officials said “you just can’t do that,” a bishop said, in reference to any pastoral action that might seem to imply approval of, or cooperation with, assisted suicide.

 

Ed Condon contributed to this report.

 

Retired judge hears arguments about NFL emails in clergy abuse case

New Orleans, La., Feb 20, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A retired New Orleans judge heard arguments on Thursday on whether private correspondence between an NFL franchise and the Archdiocese of New Orleans should be made public.

Judge Carolyn Jefferson, a retired judge of the Civil District Court for Orleans, presided over Thursday’s hearing over whether email correspondence between the NFL’s New Orleans Saints franchise and the Archdiocese of New Orleans should be available to the public, the AP reported.

The correspondence relates to a lawsuit against the archdiocese which claims it failed to protect a minor from an alleged sexual abuser in the 1970s and 80s.

In that case, lawyers for the plaintiffs have also alleged that the Saints improperly aided the archdiocese in public relations efforts to conceal information on clergy sex abuse when the archdiocese released its 2018 report on credibly accused clergy.

The Associated Press has filed a motion to have public access to email correspondence between the franchise and the archdiocese. Lawyers for the AP argued on Thursday that concerns over privacy “are minimal” when compared to the magnitude of the case.

Thursday’s hearing would not result in an immediate decision by Judge Jefferson, but rather in a recommendation made to the judge overseeing the sexual abuse lawsuit against the archdiocese, Judge Ellen Hazeur of Orleans Civil District Court.

The archdiocese is being sued by a man who alleged he was sexually abused by George Brignac, a deacon in the archdiocese who was removed from ministry in 1988 after allegations that he sexually abused minors in the 1970s and 1980s. Brignac was listed in the archdiocese’s 2018 report of clergy who had been credibly accused of abuse.

The abuse case of John Doe versus the Catholic Church of New Orleans and Deacon George Brignac was first reported by local news station WVUE. The lawsuit alleges that the archdiocese failed to protect the plaintiff from Brignac.

Brignac was originally accused of raping an altar boy at Holy Rosary School in the archdiocese, which resulted in a settlement with the archdiocese of more than $500,000, the New Orleans Advocate reported. The lawsuit filed in 2018 alleges that he molested another boy at the same school between 1977 and 1982, the Advocate reported.  

Lawyers also requested to view email correspondence between the Saints and the archdiocese, alleging that the franchise improperly helped the archdiocese with damage control in the release of its 2018 report.

The franchise responded that it did assist the archdiocese, but did so in the interest of “disclosure” and not “concealment.

On Thursday, a lawyer for the archdiocese said the allegations of colluding with the archdiocese to conceal information are "nothing more than a clear attack on the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church for wrongs of the past that the church has acknowledged,” the AP reported.

ST. PETER DAMIAN-Her Son esteems

St. Peter Damian Her Son esteems her prayers so greatly, and is so eager to please her that when she prays it seems as if she rather commands, and is rather a queen than a handmaid. — ST. PETER DAMIAN

The post ST. PETER DAMIAN-Her Son esteems appeared first on Catholic Digest.

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time Readings: James 2:14-24, 26 Psalms 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 Mark 8:34-9:1 Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Damian Readings: 2 Timothy 4:1-5 Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 11 John 15:1-8

The post Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time appeared first on Catholic Digest.

NFL Saints backed by church in effort to keep emails secret

An attorney for New Orleans' Roman Catholic archdiocese Feb. 20 strongly defended the New Orleans Saints' public-relations help in dealing with the clergy sex abuse crisis, saying the legal effort to unseal hundreds of confidential emails between them is aimed at trying to shame those "who had the audacity" to back the church.

What to expect when Vatican archives on Venerable Pope Pius XII open in March

Vatican City, Feb 20, 2020 / 11:32 am (CNA).- The Vatican’s archives on the pontificate of Venerable Pius XII will become available for study March 2, possibly bringing to light new information about the pope’s actions during World War II.

Vatican archivists have said, however, that they do not expect any immediate surprises to emerge.

It is for the researchers to explore these questions, probably taking years “to make a historical judgement,” Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archive, said Feb. 20.

He said “we believe that the new documents that open in different archives of the Holy See will better clarify, deepen, and contextualize, different aspects of the pontificate” of Ven. Pius XII.

Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, archivist and librarian of the Vatican, said the Church welcomes the research that will take place. “We should have the patience to wait and listen,” he said.

The Vatican Apostolic Archive, formerly called the “secret archive”, is an office which preserves documents and books of historical and cultural importance to the Church and to the world. Since 1881 the archive has been open to qualified researchers on request.

Scholars have had access to documents through the papacy of Pius XI, which ended February 1939.

In 2019, Pope Francis announced that starting March 2, accessibility would be extended from March 1939 to October 1959, the end of the pontificate of Ven. Pius XII.

The complete catalog is expected to include approximately 16 million documents. The smaller archives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Secretariat of State’s section for relations with states will also be opening to scholars.

The archive has received requests for access from more than 150 scholars from around the world, Pagano said. A maximum of 60 people may enter per day, he noted, “so we foresee that we will have a very weighty year of work.”

Historians request access to the archive to study many different periods, not only the papacy of Ven. Pius XII, Pagano said, stating they cannot “privilege” one over another.

But many people, especially Jewish scholars, will be interested in what the archives might reveal about the first part of Ven. Pius XII’s papacy and his actions during the Second World War.

Among some of the first researchers when the archives open March 2 will be a group from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., Pagano said. Other Jewish scholars from Rome and individual universities have also requested access.

Critics have accused Ven. Pius XII of indifference to the plight of the Jewish people during World War II, despite several already public documents which show the pope’s systematic efforts to assist Jews in Italy.

Historian Johan Ickx, director of the historical archive of the Secretariat of State’s section for relations with states, noted that many documents from Ven. Pius XII’s pontificate have already been made public.

When Pius XII’s cause for beatification was opened in 1967, St. Paul VI formed a committee of historians to study his predecessor’s life and behavior, especially the events of World War II.

The committee’s work led to the publication of “Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale” (Acts and Documents of the Holy See related to the Second World War), an 11-volume collection of documents about Pius XII’s papacy during that tumultuous time.

“Now, our material will add other things, other elements,” Ickx said. “This opening will, in fact, yet change something. … to understand better the truth of things. This is for sure.”

He added that more information will be known “from March 2 onward.”

Pagano said he fears any quick answers that may come, because some “little-prepared” scholars may come to the archive looking for a “scoop” of some sort.

“A serious scholar should take into account 10 years of study more or less,” he stated.

Tennessee governor denies clemency to death row 'model inmate'

Knoxville, Tenn., Feb 20, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The governor of Tennessee has denied a clemency request for a condemned prisoner described as a “model inmate,” clearing the way for his execution on Thursday, February 20. The decision was made despite appeals to spare his life from the family of one of his victims, and from prison officers.

Nicholas Sutton, 58, was sentenced to death in 1988 after he and another inmate murdered a fellow prisoner, Carl Estep, by stabbing him nearly 40 times on January 15, 1985. At the time of Estep’s murder, Sutton was serving a life sentence for the murder of his grandmother, Dorothy Sutton, whom he killed when he was 18. 

Gov. Bill Lee (R) denied the request for clemency on Wednesday morning. 

“After careful consideration of Nicholas Sutton’s request for clemency and a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening,” said Lee. 

Sutton was also convicted of murdering two men--Charles Almon, 46 and John Large, 19--in North Carolina, also at the age of 18. In those cases, Sutton took a plea deal and received two additional life sentences. 

His attorneys argued that he underwent a change of heart since the four murders, and had “gone from a life-taker to a life-saver,” protecting the lives of prison officials during riots. 

“I owe my life to Nick Sutton,” said former prison officer Tony Eden in an affidavit for his clemency. Eden recounted a story where, during a riot at the Tennessee State Prison in 1985, five armed inmates attempted to take him hostage.

“Nick and another inmate confronted them, physically removed me from the situation and escorted me to the safety of the trap gate in another building,” said Eden. “I firmly believe that the inmates who tried to take me hostage intended to seriously harm, if not kill me.” 

Six other current and former Tennessee Department of Correction staff members have advocated that Sutton be granted clemency. Sutton’s clemency affidavit contends that, while he was in prison, he saved the lives of five people, including three prison staff members. 

The family members of some of his victims have also argued that he should not be executed. 

Former federal district court judge Kevin Sharp, who is serving as Sutton’s clemency attorney, said in a statement after the request was denied that his client “is a once-in-a-lifetime case for clemency.”

Sutton “has saved the lives of three correction officials during his incarceration; his request for clemency was supported by seven former and current Tennessee correction professionals, family members of victims, five of the original jurors and others,” said Sharp. 

Per the statement, correction officials were seeking to spare Sutton “so he could keep making the prison safer for guards and encouraging good behavior from inmates.” 

“Mr. Sutton has been a model inmate who seeks every opportunity to be of service to others,” said Sharp, explaining that Sutton cared for a disabled inmate every day who lost the ability to walk due to multiple sclerosis. 

Sutton’s execution is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday. He has opted for the electric chair to be the method of his execution, having previously argued that the lethal injection protocol is inhumane and accounts to torture. The preferred method for execution in the state is lethal injection, but inmates who were sentenced to death prior to 1999 were given the choice between lethal injection and electrocution. 

On Wednesday, it was reported that Sutton had ordered his last meal, which he will eat prior to his execution Thursday night. Sutton ordered fried pork chops, mashed potatoes with gravy, and peach pie with vanilla ice cream. 

The catholic bishops of Tennessee have repeatedly spoken out against the death penalty in the state and called on the governor’s office to half executions.

In May, 2019, the state’s three bishops wrote to Gov. Lee asking him to respect the dignity of all human life.

“It is within your power to establish your legacy as a governor of Tennessee who does not preside over an execution on your watch,” the bishops wrote to Governor Bill Lee last year.

The letter was published May 3, and was signed by Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Bishop Mark Spalding of Nashville, and Bishop David Talley of Memphis.

The bishops said that “Even when guilt is certain, the execution is not necessary to protect society.”

“We clearly state our strong opposition to the state carrying out the death penalty,” the bishops said. “We urge you to use your authority as governor to put an end to the fast-track executions.”

Pope Francis urges Catholic educators to teach inclusive integral ecology

Vatican City, Feb 20, 2020 / 10:08 am (CNA).- Pope Francis called for an educational revolution Thursday, telling the Congregation for Catholic Education that more effort needs to be made to accelerate the inclusiveness of education.

Ecology and fraternity are an integral part of education, Pope Francis told the Catholic education leaders ahead of the pope’s Global Compact on Education taking place May 14.

“The educational pact must not be a simple order, it must not be a rehash of the positivisms we have received from an Enlightenment education. It must be revolutionary,” Pope Francis said Feb. 20.

The pope said that the purpose of an “education that focuses on the person in his integral reality” is “above all” oriented “to the discovery of fraternity that produces the multicultural composition of humanity.”

Pope Francis called for educators capable of resetting their teaching methods to form young people in an “ecological ethic.” He said education is a “dynamic reality,” which is “never a repetitive action.”

“Education is called with its pacifying force to form people capable of understanding that diversity does not hinder unity, rather they are indispensable for the richness of one's own identity and that of everyone,” Francis said.

“As for the method, education is an inclusive movement. An inclusion that goes towards all the excluded: those for poverty, for vulnerability due to wars, famines and natural disasters, for social selectivity, for family and existential difficulties,” he said.

Educational intiativies for migrants and refugees should be put into action “without any distinction of sex, religion, or ethnicity,” the pope told the congregation.

Pope Francis said a “peace-making educational movement” is needed in light of the fractures between cultures masking a “fear of diversity and difference.”

“Inclusion is not a modern invention, but is an integral part of the Christian salvific message,” Pope Francis said.

The pope addressed the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The congregation oversees 216,000 Catholic schools attended by over 60 million pupils, and 1,750 Catholic universities with over 11 million students.

The congregation devotes particular attention to institutions of Catholic higher education, which exist “by their nature aim to secure that the Christian outlook should acquire a public, stable and universal influence in the whole process of the promotion of higher culture,” according to St. John Paul II's 1979 apostolic constitution on ecclesiastical universities and faculties, Sapientia Christiana.

Ex corde Ecclesiae, St. John Paul II's 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, states that “A Catholic university's privileged task is to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth.”

"Every human reality, both individual and social has been liberated by Christ: persons, as well as the activities of men and women, of which culture is the highest and incarnate expression.... Jesus Christ, our Saviour, offers his light and his hope to all those who promote the sciences, the arts, letters and the numerous fields developed by modern culture,” it states. “Therefore, all the sons and daughters of the Church should become aware of their mission and discover how the strength of the Gospel can penetrate and regenerate the mentalities and dominant values that inspire individual cultures, as well as the opinions and mental attitudes that are derived from it.”

Pope Francis has tasked the Congregation for Catholic Education with organizing his Global Educational Summit.

When the educational pact was first announced in September, “the most significant personalities of the political, cultural and religious world” were invited to attend.

The foundation of the pact is “openness to others,” according to the instrumentum laboris for the education summit.

The aim of the Global Education Pact is to “renew the passion for a more open and inclusive education, capable of patient listening, constructive dialogue, and mutual understanding,” Pope Francis told the congregation.