Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Archbishop in Minnesota calls for prayers for justice & peace


Archbishop Hebda encourages prayers, peace after fatal police shooting

Family members, friends and other members of the community gather at a memorial put up at the site in Brooklyn Center, Minn., April 12, 2021, where Daunte Wright was shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer and died April 11 during a traffic stop. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — After a night of protests and vandalism April 11 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, following the police shooting of Daunte Wright, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis urged prayers for justice and peace.

“I hope that as a community, we might be able to pause and pray, particularly during this time of already heightened tension due to the Chauvin trial,” the archbishop said in an April 12 statement referring to the current trial in Minneapolis of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin over the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd while he was in police custody.

“I am encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd” over the Wright shooting, he added.

At a news conference April 12, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said it appeared from police body camera video the officer accidentally fired her gun while intending to use her Taser. The officer was later identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was hit by a single bullet after officers stopped him for a traffic violation because the car he was driving had expired registration tags but officers then discovered that he had an outstanding warrant.

According to news reports, a struggle ensued as an officer on the driver side of the vehicle began to handcuff Wright, who jumped back into the driver’s seat and was shot.

The local medical examiner said Wright “died of a gunshot wound of the chest.”

Potter has been placed on administrative leave.

The incident triggered confrontations April 11 and 12 with police and looting in the city. The Minnesota National Guard and State Patrol were called to assist Brooklyn Center police officers. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was ordered April 12 in four surrounding counties.

St. Alphonsus Church, about three miles away from the incident, and its immediate neighborhood was largely peaceful, but vandals hit a mini-mall about two blocks away, causing some damage, said Redemptorist Father John Schmidt, pastor.

The parish school was closed April 12, following the direction of the Brooklyn Center public schools, said the principal, Kari Staples.

A pastoral council meeting scheduled for the evening of April 13 is to include discussion of the parish’s response to the shooting and resulting violence, Father Schmidt told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He added that he would really like the parish to “spend some time in prayer.”

In his statement, Archbishop Hebda offered his condolences to Wright’s family and friends “for the loss of their son, father, brother and friend.”

“I have also been praying for his eternal repose, for his family and for all those who loved him. Daunte was created by God in his image and likeness and for a ‘definite purpose,’ as St. John Henry Newman wrote, and we grieve the loss of his young life.”

The archbishop said he also is “praying for the Brooklyn Center Police Officer involved in the shooting, and for her family and friends. I suspect that they are grieving in a different way.”

He said early indications point toward the shooting being accidental, but he encouraged people to allow investigators to complete their work before coming to any personal judgments as to what occurred.

“As I did last month when the (Chauvin) trial began, I ask that all of us take time daily to pray for justice, but also for peace in our families and in our communities,” he added.

Ruff is news editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Saint of the day for Wednesday


St. Peter Gonzalez

Feastday: April 14
Patron: of sailors
Birth: 1190
Death: 1246
Beatified: 1254, Rome by Pope Innocent IV
Canonized: December 13, 1741, Rome by Pope Benedict XIV

Dominican protector of captives and sailors. Born in Astorga, Spain, he entered the Dominicans and became the chaplain and confessor of King St. Ferdinand of Castile. He preached a campaign against the Moors, and then cared for the captured Muslims. He also cared for sailors, who dubbed him Thelmo, after St. Elmo.

Major Vatican conference coming on the Priesthood


Cardinal unveils major Vatican conference on priesthood slated for 2022


Pope Francis greets Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, during the sign of peace at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in this Jan. 6, 2020, file photo. Cardinal Ouellet announced plans for a major international conference at the Vatican in 2022 on the theology of the priesthood. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By: Cindy Wooden

Date: April 12, 2021

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way laypeople and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates the request for ordination are all possible outcomes of a major symposium being planned by the Vatican in February 2022.

“A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,” said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for Feb. 17-19, 2022.

The symposium, “Toward a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” seeks to encourage an understanding of ministerial priesthood that is rooted in the priesthood of all believers conferred at baptism, getting away from the idea of ordained ministry as belonging to “ecclesiastical power,” the cardinal said at a news conference April 12.

The three-day gathering, the cardinal said, is aimed specifically at bishops and delegations of theologians and vocations personnel from every country, although it will be open to other theologians and people interested in the topic.

The relationship between baptism and ordained ministry needs greater emphasis today, Cardinal Ouellet said, but reviewing the foundations of a theology of priesthood also “involves ecumenical questions not to be ignored, as well as the cultural movements that question the place of women in the church.”

The recent synods of bishops on the family, on young people and on the church in the Amazon all show the urgency of questions surrounding priesthood and relationships among people with different vocations in the church, the cardinal said.

Michelina Tenace, a professor of theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, is helping organize the symposium and told reporters that going back to baptism and the priesthood of all believers “isn’t just a fashion, it’s the basis for all Christian life.”

The clerical abuse scandal, she said, makes the questions of priestly identity, vocational discernment and formation more urgent.

Father Vincent Siret, rector of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, said a deeper reflection on priesthood — both the priesthood of all the baptized and ministerial priesthood — is essential for those engaged in training men for the priesthood.

“The baptismal life is the fundamental human vocation, and all must exercise the priesthood received at baptism. Ministry is at the service of this,” he said. “Reflecting on the fundamental theology of the priesthood will also make it possible to return to the justifications for priestly celibacy and the way it is lived.”

The Catholic Church requires most priests in its Latin rite to be celibate. While Cardinal Ouellet, Father Siret and Tenace all mentioned the importance of celibacy in the Latin rite, none of them mentioned the traditions of the Eastern Catholic churches that continue to have both married and celibate clergy.

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Pope, a martyr and a Saint


Pope Saint Martin I

Martin I lay too sick to fight on a couch in front of the altar when the soldiers burst into the Lateran basilica. He had come to the church when he heard the soldiers had landed. But the thought of kidnapping a sick pope from the house of God didn't stop the soldiers from grabbing him and hustling him down to their ship.

Elected pope in 649, Martin I had gotten in trouble for refusing to condone silence in the face of wrong. At that time there existed a popular heresy that held that Christ didn't have a human will, only a divine will. The emperor had issued an edict that didn't support Monothelism (as it was known) directly, but simply commanded that no one could discuss Jesus' will at all.

Monothelism was condemned at a council convened by Martin I. The council affirmed, once again, that since Jesus had two natures, human and divine, he had two wills, human and divine. The council then went further and condemned Constans edict to avoid discussion stating, "The Lord commanded us to shun evil and do good, but not to reject the good with the evil."

In his anger at this slap in the face, the emperor sent his soldiers to Rome to bring the pope to him. When Martin I arrived in Constantinople after a long voyage he was immediately put into prison. There he spent three months in a filthy, freezing cell while he suffered from dysentery. He was not allowed to wash and given the most disgusting food. After he was condemned for treason without being allowed to speak in his defense he was imprisoned for another three months.

From there he was exiled to the Crimea where he suffered from the famine of the land as well as the roughness of the land and its people. But hardest to take was the fact that the pope found himself friendless. His letters tell how his own church had deserted him and his friends had forgotten him. They wouldn't even send him oil or corn to live off of.

He died two years later in exile in the year 656, a martyr who stood up for the right of the Church to establish doctrine even in the face of imperial power.

Almost halfway through April, don't forget the Pope's special prayer intention



Fundamental Rights
We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.

A Catholic physician updates on Coronavirus, vaccinations, herd immunity, the finish line


‘We are near the finish line’: A Catholic physician gives an update on vaccinations, the pandemic

A Walgreens health care professional prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTec COVID-19 vaccine in Evanston, Ill., Feb. 22, 2021. (CNS photo/Kamil Krzaczynski, Reuters)

There is good news to report regarding the progress of federal, state and local efforts in the United States to vaccinate the population against COVID-19. The progress in the United States rivals the best efforts in other countries.

As of April 12, the U.S. has administered more than 187 million doses of vaccine, and 22% of the population is fully vaccinated, while more than one-third of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Only Israel (54%) and the Seychelles (39%) have more than a quarter of their populations fully vaccinated.

With 38 states having opened (or expected to open soon) vaccine appointments to those 16 and older, herd immunity is possible by the end of May, depending on the lag time to get vaccinated after making appointments. A wild card is whether vaccines will remain effective against variants, but so far, they have been effective, including a recent study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in South Africa.

Vaccines work

If SARS-CoV-2 had entered the human population as just another cause of the common cold, the world would not have been turned upside down. Yet, there have been some who state that the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are not good enough because they do not eliminate the risk of asymptomatic or mild disease.

We didn’t close or curtail medical offices, schools, businesses, restaurants and churches because of asymptomatic or mild disease. We did this to reduce hospitalizations and death. That’s also why we get vaccinated.

About half of the population of Israel, where the U.K. variant accounts for 80% of cases, is now fully vaccinated with the Pfizer mRNA product. This has led to a 98% reduction in symptomatic disease, a 94% reduction in asymptomatic disease and a 97% reduction in deaths compared to unvaccinated Israelis. That’s incredible! Many of us in the medical community are celebrating like the general public celebrated the release of the polio vaccine in the 1950s.

The mRNA vaccines are remarkably safe: Cases of feared anaphylaxis are less than 5 per 1 million. And there is evidence from vaccine surveillance through the CDC that there is no increased risk of miscarriage, heart attack, stroke, seizures, clotting or bleeding disorders, or Guillain-Barre syndrome among recipients of the first 55 million doses of mRNA vaccines.

In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, a third vaccine in early March entered our country from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen division. It possesses advantages over the mRNA vaccines: deep freezing is not required since it can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three months, only one injection is needed, and its phase 3 studies took place where recent virus variants are common.

Moral concerns

Despite these advantages, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was produced with PER.C6 cells descended from cells derived from a baby aborted in 1985. None of these fetal cells are in the vaccine, but unlike the mRNA vaccines where fetal cells were only used in pre-production testing, fetal cells were used in both production and testing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Both the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have stated that any of the available COVID-19 vaccines can be ethically received by Catholics and includes a requirement that we protest the unethical aspects of vaccine production. The USCCB has posted sample letters we can print and mail to ask each company to find alternatives to the use of such fetal cells while also thanking them for these “lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.”

According to the Vatican, there is no moral obligation to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but “the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.”

The average age of the patients on whom I daily operate is well north of 70, and the vast majority tell me they have been vaccinated and are excited about it. How confident can such individuals be in resuming Mass attendance if they have been waiting to return? Because protection against severe disease and death are remarkably good, I do not hesitate to recommend to my parents and relatives over 80 to return to public Masses once they are two weeks past full vaccination.

When do we get back to normal?

I wish I knew, and I look forward to the day I don’t need a mask and the pews can be safely filled in my parish. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are falling so that hospitalized COVID-19 patient numbers nationally have finally fallen below the lowest numbers seen last summer. Before returning to normal, public health officials will want to see the numbers continue to decrease, a COVID-19 test positivity rate below 3%, and no variants causing widespread disease despite vaccination.

The number of people getting vaccinated is a good sign, because once vaccinated, we have greater freedom to get together with friends, family and co-workers who have also been vaccinated, and I certainly have been enjoying that freedom. I didn’t realize how much I needed that close, unmasked contact with friends and family.

When will we get to “herd immunity”? Most estimates vary from as early as this spring to sometime in the fall. I think we’ll know much more soon as we see the trends in cases — and especially hospitalizations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see mask mandates gradually disappear across the country over the next few months.

We are near the finish line. Thanks be to God!

Thomas W. McGovern, MD, practices Mohs surgery and facial reconstruction in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He worked for two years at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease before his dermatology training and serves on the national board of the Catholic Medical Association.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Saint of the Day for Monday


St. Julius

Julius whose feast day is April 12th. Julius was the son of a Roman named Rusticus. He was elected Pope to succeed Pope St. Mark on February 6, 337. Julius was soon involved in the Arian controversy when Eusebius of Nicomedia opposed the return of Athanasius to the See of Alexandria in 338. Eusebius and his followers elected George, whereupon the Arians elected Pistus. Julius convened a synod in Rome in 340 or 341 that neither group attended, and in a letter to the Eusebian bishops, Julius declared that Athanasius was the rightful bishop of Alexandria and reinstated him. The matter was not finally settled until the Council of Sardica (Sofia), summoned by emperors Constans and Constantius in 342 or 343, declared Julius' action correct and that any deposed bishop had the right of appeal to the Pope in Rome. Julius built several basilicas and churches in Rome and died there on April 12.

If you venerated the image of Divine Mercy today, Jesus promises...


The Divine Mercy Promises

To those souls who venerate the image of Divine Mercy

“I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, espe­cially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory.” (Diary, 48)

On this year's Divine Mercy Sunday it's a feast of the patron Saint of Poland


St. Stanislaus of Krakow

Feastday: April 11
Patron: of Poland, Krakow, moral order
Birth: July 26, 1030
Death: April 11, 1079
Canonized: September 17, 1253, Assisi, Italy by Pope Innocent IV

Stanislaus was born of noble parents on July 26th at Szczepanow near Cracow, Poland. He was educated at Gnesen and was ordained there. He was given a canonry by Bishop Lampert Zula of Cracow, who made him his preacher, and soon he became noted for his preaching. He became a much sought after spiritual adviser. He was successful in his reforming efforts, and in 1072 was named Bishop of Cracow. He incurred the enmity of King Boleslaus the Bold when he denounced the King's cruelties and injustices and especially his kidnapping of the beautiful wife of a nobleman. When Stanislaus excommunicated the King and stopped services at the Cathedral when Boleslaus entered, Boleslaus himself killed Stanislaus while the Bishop was saying Mass in a chapel outside the city on April 11. Stanislaus has long been the symbol of Polish nationhood. He was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253 and is the principle patron of Cracow. His feast day is April 11th.