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October 7, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Christians killed in Syria
Mourners carry the coffins of three men into a church for their funeral in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 10. The Christian men were killed during a raid by opposition fighters on Maloula village northeast of Damascus. Meanwhile, governments and agencies are struggling to keep up with the needs and pressures created by the displacement of nearly a third of Syria's population because of the country's civil war. Assistance to the refugees and displaced people is coming from around the world, although resources are thinly stretched.
Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters, cns

Pope Francis has set April 27 as the date for the canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. The two pontiffs will become saints on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Two saints, one ceremony

Recognizing that Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II have widespread reputations for holiness and that years of studying their lives and actions have proven their exceptional virtue, Pope Francis announced he would declare his two predecessors saints at a single ceremony April 27.

The pope made the announcement Sept. 30 at the end of an "ordinary public consistory," a gathering of cardinals and promoters of the sainthood causes of the two late popes. The consistory took place in the context of a prayer service in Latin and included the reading of brief biographies of the two sainthood candidates.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, read the biographies and highlighted the "service to peace" and the impact both popes had "inside and outside the Christian community" at times of great cultural, political and religious transformation. The testimonies of their lives, "completely dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel, shine in the church and reverberate in the history of the world as examples of hope and light," the cardinal said.

Blessed John Paul, known as a globetrotter, served as pope from 1978 to 2005 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on May 1, 2011. Blessed John XXIII, known particularly for convoking the Second Vatican Council, was pope from 1958 to 1963; Blessed John Paul beatified him in 2000.

Away from 'Vatican-centric'

In his latest wide-ranging interview, Pope Francis said that he aimed to make the Catholic Church less "Vatican-centric" and closer to the "people of God," as well as more socially conscious and open to modern culture.
He also revealed that he briefly considered turning down the papacy in the moments following his election last March, and identified the "most urgent problem" the church should address today as youth unemployment and the abandonment of elderly people.

The pope's remarks appeared in a 4,500-word interview, published Oct. 1 in the Rome daily La Repubblica, with Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist and co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

Their conversation touched on a range of topics, including economic justice, dialogue between Christians and nonbelievers, and reform of the Vatican bureaucracy.

"Heads of the church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers," the pope said. "The court is the leprosy of the papacy."

Pope Francis said that the Roman Curia, the church's central administration at the Vatican, is not itself a court, though courtiers can be found there.

The Curia "has one defect," he said. "It is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it."

"The church is or should go back to being a community of God's people," he said. "Priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls are at the service of the people of God."

Pope Francis also recounted what he said was one of his rare mystical experiences, just after his election as pope, when he was "seized by a great anxiety" and even contemplated refusing the office.

"At a certain point I was filled with a great light," he said. "It lasted a moment, but it seemed to me very long. Then the light faded, I got up suddenly and walked into the room where the cardinals were waiting and the table on which was the act of acceptance."

Kathleen Sebelius
Sebelius promotes law

ST. LOUIS — During a visit to St. Louis, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed the ongoing issue of religious liberty and the implications the Affordable Care Act and its contraceptive mandate present to business owners who have moral objections to the mandate. Sebelius was in town Sept. 19 as part of a multicity tour promoting the health care law.

Mental illness project

SOLON SPRINGS, Wis. — A northern Wisconsin priest is the head of a wide-ranging national organization to advocate for causes involving the mentally ill, and he has worked hand-in-hand for years with acclaimed actor and activist Martin Sheen. Father Jim Kinney, who has family members who suffer from mental illness, is executive director of the nonprofit Peace of Mind Project, known as POMP. Over the years, he has teamed with Sheen, a Catholic, who has been its spokesman for 13 years and is featured in scores of public service announcements. The latest series began running last fall and can be seen on the project's website, http://peaceofmindproject.com.

More action needed

NEW YORK — It boggles the mind to contemplate 21 million people ensnared in human trafficking and modern-day slavery in 2013. But widespread awareness of forced labor in the United States and other countries is the critical first step to abolishing the heinous practice, according to speakers at a Sept. 26 New York forum on corporate responsibility and faith-based investment.

Suspended priest arrested

PHILADELPHIA — Father Robert L. Brennan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose priestly faculties have been suspended since 2005, was arrested Sept. 26 in Maryland on charges of sexually abusing a Northeast Philadelphia boy between 1998 and 2001. Father Brennan, 75, was arrested on charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault in Perryville, Md., where he was living in a private residence. He was being held in Maryland's Cecil County, where he faced an extradition hearing.

Largest Georgetown gift

WASHINGTON — Georgetown University alumnus Frank H. McCourt Jr. has given the university the largest donation in its history and it will be used to help students tackle 21st-century challenges in public policy by analyzing data-driven research and using it to create solutions. McCourt, a 1975 graduate, is president of the real-estate development firm McCourt Global, which has offices in New York and Los Angeles. He has contributed $100 million to create and fund the McCourt School of Public Policy.

Marquette opens institute

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University is launching a new Institute for Catholic Leadership led by Thomas Kiely to support primary and secondary Catholic education in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, the region and the nation. Kiely, who had been principal at Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, N.J., since 2004, spent the 2012-13 academic year at Marquette researching best practices for educational growth and development.

'Beloved' Bishop Lyne

CHICAGO — On the morning of Sept. 25, retired Auxiliary Bishop Timothy J. Lyne of Chicago died at his residence in the rectory bearing his name at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. He was 94. Cardinal George said in a statement the archdiocese "is mourning the death of a beloved bishop, and Chicago mourns the death of a great citizen of our city."

— Catholic News Service


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