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Behind the Headlines

Role of faithful addressed at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast




Sister Constance Veit, communications director for her religious congregation, the Little Sisters of the Poor, speaks at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast May 17 in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON – I would not have imagined a 10-minute speech to introduce the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s only 31 words, albeit a set of words packed with meaning.

The meaning became even more poignant when the Pledge was introduced at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., May 17 by Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers Jr.

A member of the Navy SEALs, Byers noted that he led prayer groups and rosaries with other members of his unit. He received the Medal of Honor this year for rescuing a civilian hostage in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan in December 2012.

Byers said he wore a patch of St. Michael the Archangel on his uniform every time he went into battle.

As he stood, hand over his heart, Byers led a crowd of almost 1,300 people in reciting the Pledge at the 12th annual breakfast.

The role of the faithful in the public square was addressed by several other speakers.

Little Sister of the Poor Constance Veit reflected on news from the day before that the Supreme Court of the United States had returned the Little Sisters’ case against the U.S. government to the lower courts so that a resolution could be found between the parties. The sisters, who run homes for the aged poor around the country, including St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville, object to the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that they provide contraception services to their employees. They also object to the workaround offered by the government because they believe that it would still make them complicit in what the sisters believe is an immoral practice.

Sister Constance said many people ask her what they would do if they lost the suit. She tells them they don’t have a fallback plan, because they firmly believe that God will never abandon them.

She recounted three pieces of advice she received from various people as the sisters fought this case: Dare to be of good cheer, see everyone as Christ would and trust in God.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) addressed the topic of religious liberty, especially in light of the Little Sisters case and others pending before the courts.

“These days religious liberty is under assault. A lot of people think faith is just an odd, colorful mask for the ugly face of intolerance,” Ryan said. “I am not saying we should feel put upon. I mean, saints were thrown to the lions. By that standard, we have it easy.

“What I am saying is, we have to advocate for our faith. And we should defend religious liberty not just on material grounds – that is, because people of faith do good things, like give to charity or volunteer. We should also defend it on spiritual grounds—that is, because living out our faith gives us joy.”

Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah told the crowd that what happens in the United States has repercussions around the world. “The globe is waiting for your response on major questions.”

He reminded the audience that Pope St. John Paul II said, “The future of the church and the world passes through the family.”

He noted that as archbishop of Conackry, Guinea, he dedicated all the pastoral letters in his first five years as archbishop to the topic of the family. It is important, he said, to protect the life of the family as the first cell of the church and society.

He encouraged those gathered to do three things: Be prophetic, to be faithful and to pray.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori closed the event with an invocation and blessing. He prayed especially for millions of people the world over who suffer religious persecution and discrimination.



May 18, 2016 01:22
By Christopher Gunty


What name might the new pope take?

UPDATED March 19

We learned six days ago that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected by his fellow cardinals as the 266th pope, and took the name Francis I.

Though no pope had ever taken that name before, it was in my list as a possibility.

It could signal, as I noted, that Pope Francis may, like Francis of Assisi, "rebuild my church." It could also be a reflection of Cardinal Bergoglio's humble manner. He is reported to ride the bus, live in a simple apartment and cook his own meals, He is known by many in his archdiocese of Buenos Aires as "Father Jorge.

It would seem obvious that his days of riding the bus are over. Many are not safe from pickpockets and other dangers on Rome's #62 bus that passes by St. Peter's. 

Click here to read about Pope Francis' reasoning behind choosing St. Francis of Assisi's name. We will certainly learn more about the new pope in the coming days and weeks.

Welcome, Pope Francis.

-------

At a Vatican news conference this morning, Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the director of Toronto-based Salt + Light TV who is assisting the Vatican press office with English- and French-speaking journalists, noted that there is no way to know the new papal name until he is elected and makes his choice. The new pope does not have to explain why he chose the name, though Benedict XVI did so.

The first pope to change his name appears to be John II, whose birth name was Mercurius. He apparently decided that having the name of a pagan god was not good form for a pope. Most popes since then have taken a new name – either of a saint or a previous pope (sometimes both).



The most common papal name is John, with 23 iterations of that already (and the “September Pope,” John Paul I, honored his predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI, and John Paul II honored all three of his predecessors by taking the same name). Benedict and Gregory come in tied for second with 16 each.

Without taking into account every papal name that has been used, here is a list compiled in the last couple of weeks of the possible names for the new pope. Along with the name are some comments on the likelihood of that choice.

·       Benedict XVII: Possible, if the new pontiff wants to honor both his immediate predecessor and St. Benedict. Unlikely, though, because we would have two living Pope Benedicts (one retired, one active) and both the new pope and emeritus pope will want to eliminate any confusion.

·       John Paul III: Perhaps not likely, while we await a second miracle for the canonization of Blessed John Paul; he may wish for his name to not interfere with people’s memory of John Paul II’s long and prolific pontificate, which some people contend will one day result in Blessed John Paul being known as “St. John Paul the Great.”

·       Paul VII: High possibility, as it would pay tribute to the pontiff who concluded the Second Vatican Council and implemented changes in the liturgy, and honor the Apostle Paul.

·       John XXIV: Pays tribute to Blessed John XXIII, who convened Vatican II, and as noted, is the most common papal name.

·       Pius XIII: Less likely while the debate continues to rage over Pius XII’s role during World War II. If Pius XII is eventually canonized, that might clear the way for the name to be used again, but now might be untimely. By the way, the Irish betting site Paddy Power currently has Leo at 6/5 odds of being selected. (However, it’s not worth putting a lot of stock in that, necessarily, since the site also lists Peter at 9/2 odds; by tradition, out of respect for their historic role, no other pope has taken the name Peter or Linus, the first two popes.)

·       Leo XIV: A good chance for this one. Author and Vaticanista George Weigel notes that the reforms we are currently experiencing in the church did not begin with Vatican II, but with the papacy of Leo XIII in the late 19th century. If the new pope wants to allude to Leo’s charism of change and Catholic social teaching, he could choose to honor him by taking his name.

·       Gregory XVII: Second most common papal name, and lots of reasons to choose it.

·       Clement XV: (see also, O’Malley note, below)

·       Innocent XIV: (unlikely; in these days with the sexual abuse crisis, etc., the name Innocent might be mocked by many in the media and in the streets)

·       Alexander VIII: Low likelihood. Alexander VII commission St. Peter’s Square (a plus), but Alexander VI had a great-great-great grandson who became pope (Innocent X) and that could call attention to past concerns about the papal families in the Middle Ages.

·       Urban IX: Not likely, as this would recall the pope who began the trial of Galileo Galilei, whose persecution by the church was later renounced.

·       Marcellus III: Low possibility. The popes named Marcellinus and Marcellus reigned a long time ago; Marcellus II was the last to use his birth name (Marcello) as his papal name.

·       Julius IV: This line includes a saint (Julius I) but last Julius was in the 1500s. A long shot.

·       Adrian/Hadrian VII: Boosting the odds, Adrian VI was the last non-Italian to be named pope before John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla of Poland), so a non-Italian pope might choose this. Deflating the odds: There is a stage play called “Hadrian VII,” which is about a man who converts to Catholicism, ordained a priest and by a fluke is elected pope. A new pope might not want to encourage comparisons to the fictional Hadrian.

·       Martin VI: The last Pope Martin was in the 15th century, but a pope from Latin America might choose this name, partly to honor St. Marin de Porres, who was born and ministered in Peru.

·       Boniface X: Low likelihood, but Bonifance IV was a Benedictine and was canonized.

·       Celestine VI: this choice could honor Celestine V, who resigned the papacy, and so in some way honor Benedict XVI, who may have telegraphed his intention to resign if he determined it wise by leaving his pallium at Celestine’s tomb on a visit to L’Aquila in 2009.

·       Joseph I: Unusual, because it hasn’t been done before, but it has a good chance for a few reasons. If the new pope wants to pay tribute to Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger, but doesn’t want to take the name Benedict, he could be the first Pope Joseph. This could also honor St. Joseph, Universal patron of the church, and it is possible the new pope could be installed on his feast, March 19.

·       Francis I: If the new pope wants to send a message that he plans to “rebuild my church,” as Christ said when the crucifix spoke to St. Francis of Assisi, this could be a possibility. It, too, would be unusual since there has been no Pope Francis before now, although four Franciscans have become pope. If the conclave confirms the buzz in Rome in the last few weeks about Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston and elects him, he might choose Francis to honor the founder of his religious order.

·       Three more names come to mind if it’s Cardinal O’Malley or another who wants to honor Francis and the Franciscans: Clement XV, Sixtus VI (there have been two Franciscan popes named Sixtus) and Nicholas VI.

My bet: Leo XIV. Second choice: Joseph I.


Related article


March 13, 2013 05:49
By Christopher Gunty


Chick-fil-A CEO gets caught in free-speech double standard

Melinda Gates can say all she wants about how wonderful contraception is for helping people in developing countries limit the size of their families and the mainstream media doesn’t bat an eye. I don’t hear the mayors of Chicago, or Boston or Washington, D.C., accusing the wife of Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation of eugenics and saying that Microsoft doesn’t share their cities values, so Microsoft’s products are not welcome within the city.
Melinda Gates is entitled to her opinions. She admits that she is a practicing Catholic who disagrees with the church on the issue of contraception, according to an interview in the Guardian, a newspaper in Great Britain. She says that contraception prevents women and children in countries in Africa and other parts of the world alive – not because it protects them from AIDS or other STDs, but simply because it allows them to space the births of their children.
In an article in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Giulia Galeotti, a frequent LOR contributor on life issues, wrote, “The American philanthropist is off the mark,” the victim of “bad information and persistent stereotypes on this theme. To still believe that by opposing the use of condoms, the Catholic Church leaves women and children to die because of misogynist intransigence is a baseless and shoddy reading” of reality, she wrote, according to Catholic News Service.
So how come people such as Melinda Gates or George Soros or Warren Buffet can say whatever they want to, and most of the media and many politicians across America are OK with that, but when Dan Cathy, CEO of the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, makes some comments about the traditional definition of marriage, he is blasted? It can’t be because they don’t agree with free speech, can it? If that were the case, then Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, would have to say of the man convicted of insider trading, that “George Soros’ values aren’t our values.” But instead, as a principal adviser and chief of staff to Barrack Obama, Emanuel certainly welcomed all the help he could get from MoveOn.org, which got loads and loads of support from Soros.
But Emanuel did say, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members.” And the mayors of Boston and D.C. also say the restaurant is not welcome in their town. How ridiculous.
It’s a little crazy to say, however, that you’re surprised by the viewpoint of the leader of a privately-held restaurant that is so unabashed about its Christian underpinnings that it is closed on Sundays. And if those are the kind of values that are unwelcome in our major cities, then God save us all.
Agree with Dan Cathy or don’t. Agree with Melinda and Bill Gates or don’t. Support their companies based on what their leaders say, or boycott them. Many folks across the country have chosen today, Aug. 1, as the day to show their support for Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A by making a point of eating at the chain, some multiple times throughout the day. The friendly cows urging, “Eat mor chikin” may have a lot of company today.
Either way, let’s give free speech a fair shake. Everyone is entitled to free speech, not just the media darlings.

August 01, 2012 12:07
By Christopher Gunty


Cardinal O'Brien relaxed as he hands over archdiocese

Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien said it has been “tough to be in ‘purgatory’” for the last nine months since his appointment as pro-grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. He has done two jobs in that time, as head of the worldwide order dedicated to support of the church in the Holy Land, and as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Looking relaxed and smiling the evening before the installation of his successor, Archbishop William E. Lori, as the 16th archbishop of Baltimore, the cardinal noted that it’s good that the new bishop is here, calling him a good man, and a smart man.

He said the work he has done since his appointment to the position in Rome has been made easier by his two staffs at the Archdiocese of Baltimore and at the headquarters in Rome of the Equestrian Order. Fortunately, he said, he has not had to deal with any crises, and the administration on both sides of the Atlantic has been very capable and helpful.

He expects to be “very relieved” once the installation is over May 16, and he leaves for Rome about 24 hours after that, arriving May 18. He’ll have a quiet weekend and then get down to the full-time affairs of the Holy Sepulcher next week.

He will return to the U.S. occasionally, but he does not have a lot of plans so far, other than an investiture for the order’s Eastern Lieutenancy. When he is in the United States, Baltimore will be his home base, with a suite of rooms at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

He also is making plans for his first trip to the Holy Land as grand master of the order, likely this fall, at which time he will be formally welcomed there.

He presided over a vespers service at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, during which he sat in that church’s cathedra below his episcopal coat of arms in Baltimore one last time. When incoming Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori during his homily thanked Cardinal O’Brien for his great service to the archdiocese and to the church, the congregation responded with a standing ovation.

May 16, 2012 11:33
By Christopher Gunty