IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.
Don't miss the Ignatius Press St. Paul's Pilgrimage Cruise!
Year of Faith Mediterranean Pilgrimage Cruise
St. Paul's missionary path through Greece and Turkey. Join Ignatius
Press president Mark Brumley and EWTN's Father Mark Mary on a pilgrimage
of sea and land, led by outstanding Pilgrimage Guide Steve Ray, host of
The Footprints of God film series. Visit the sites where St. Paul
preached, suffered, was imprisoned, and eventually martyred (precruise
Rome extension only). Plus, see the island of St. John's exile, where he
received the vision of the book of Revelation. And visit Athens, where
Paul presented Christianity to the pagan world; and ancient Greek
philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle lived and taught.
Listen to inspiring teaching and faith-building presentations in the
lands of the first Christian missions.
Be transported back to the days of the early Church as you visit:
And visit Imperial Rome, the place of the martyrdom of Ss. Peter and Paul, on the optional precruise leg of the pilgrimage.
This is a spiritual journey of a lifetime.
The Catholic Church in Africa: Vibrant, Young, and Resilient | William L. Patenaude | CWR
An interview with Allen Ottaro, national coordinator for MAGiS Kenya
Allen Ottaro, 28, lives in Nairobi, Kenya. A parishioner at St. Paul’s Catholic University Chapel in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, he studied Environmental Planning and Management at Kenyatta University. Mr. Ottaro is the national coordinator of MAGiS Kenya, an Ignatian young adult ministry, and has worked with the African Jesuit AIDS Network. He is also a cofounder of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa. Mr. Ottaro has attended the past three World Youth Days and looks forward to July’s event in Brazil. He recently spoke with William L. Patenaude for CWR about the Catholic Church in Africa, especially the role of faith in the lives of the continent’s young people.
CWR: After Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and during the conclave, many in the mainstream media and within the Church hoped for an African pope. How did the election of Pope Francis of Argentina speak to the Church in Africa?
Ottaro: Many people in Africa share similar realities as those in Argentina. The Church in Africa was praying together with the Universal Church for the cardinals as they listened to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And together with the Universal Church, Africans are rejoicing and giving thanks to the Lord for Pope Francis. The images of (then) Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio washing and kissing the feet of those living with HIV and AIDS in his Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and his commitment to the poor, to peace, and to the protection of creation is already making a very strong impression about our own responsibilities as people of faith.
CWR: In general, tell us about the Church in Africa—its strengths and challenges—including how its role varies throughout the continent.
Pope Benedict XVI’s “First Convert” | Roger Dubin | Catholic World Report
The story of how a New York Jew wrestled with Christ and became Catholic
Marx once said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have a guy
like me as a member.”
So began my witness testimony at the Easter Vigil on April 7,
2007, when my wife Barbara and I entered the Catholic Church. For a New York
Jew, who’d detested the name “Jesus” for as long as he could remember, to be
standing before a packed congregation at Sacred Heart Church in Prescott,
Arizona, having to recount in three minutes how he got there—well, you can
imagine what a surreal a moment that
Yet now, when instead of three minutes I have three thousand
words, plus six years as a Catholic, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and
the election of Pope Francis for perspective, the task is, if anything, even
more daunting. But Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, asked
me to give it a shot, so here goes.
On April 2, 2005, there came the news of the death of Pope John
Paul II. I’d always admired the pope for his courage in confronting the horrors
of communism, and for aligning with President Reagan and Prime Minister
Thatcher in a united front that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. Yet as
a spiritual leader he meant nothing to me.
Nevertheless, Barbara and I found ourselves becoming involved in
the events and the funeral as they unfolded on television. Even the typically
skewed commercial coverage couldn’t disguise the tributes from all corners of
the globe, and the love for the pope and grief at losing him from Catholics and
people of every faith. At some point in the two weeks following, Barbara—a
long-lapsed Protestant who’d never lost her regard for Christianity—turned to
me and said, “You’ve got to get religion, Roger. You’ve been drifting way too
Early on the morning of April 19, I left on a business trip, first
taking the commuter flight from Prescott, our home since 2001, to the Sky
Harbor Airport in Phoenix. There was a wait before my next flight to the west
coast, so I stopped for coffee, and soon after I arrived at the gate, the white
smoke appeared over the roof of the Sistine Chapel on the television monitor.
Sipping my cappuccino, I watched with a large group of travelers, interested—as
a news hound mostly—in who’d been chosen. From my casual observation, however,
quite a few in the crowd were Catholics, and far more invested in the outcome
When the announcement was made that Cardinal Ratzinger had been
elected, people around me seemed to register either shock or joy.
Hysterical Hatred and the Halls of History | Michael Coren | Catholic World Report
Both are plain to see and ever with us, but only one has
lessons worth learning.
I write this column while looking out onto Westminster
Bridge, Britain’s Houses of Parliament, and a London still pulsating with news
of the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Pulsating indeed,
because she changed the beat, the rhythm, and the pace of this country, and
fundamentally and irreversibly transformed the nature and style of the United
Kingdom. As such, she is revered as well as reviled, and that polarization
extends to the Catholic reaction to her passing. There are Catholics here in
Britain who believe she was one of the last political leaders to properly
appreciate the link between Europe, democracy, and Christianity. Others,
especially in Ulster and northern England, can barely contain their anger at a
woman they believe destroyed their way of life.
The truth about Margaret Thatcher reflects a greater truth
about how the world approaches history, facts, and downright hysteria and
propaganda, and reflects directly to the Church and how it is treated in the
Much, if not most, of what Mrs. Thatcher has been accused of
is pure fantasy, and the reaction to that campaign of disinformation has been
downright obscene: street parties celebrating her death; the singing of “Ding
dong the witch is dead” (with “b” replacing “w”); the public announcement that
people will urinate on her grave. Many of these malicious idiots weren’t even
born when she was in office, and those who were have little to complain about,
if truth be told. But it is the extent and excess that is so repugnant. There
are numerous politicians whom I loathe, but not one whose death would lead me
Knights for Peace and Sanctification in the Middle East | William L. Patenaude | Catholic World Report
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem works to support the people and shrines of the Holy Land.
Almost a thousand years after its founding, an order of crusader knights remains active in the Holy Land. Its mission is not armed battle but the carrying out of the order’s original ideals: personal holiness, evangelization, defense of the weak, and charity towards all. Its members also pledge to support the upkeep of the shrines where Christ was born, prayed, mounted his cross, and rose from the dead.
Founded soon after the First Crusade, the pontifical Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem currently has some 28,000 clerical, religious, and lay members across the globe. While the order’s titles, regalia, and ceremonies of investiture come with great honor and dignity (and a rigorous nomination process), membership comes with a lifetime pledge of spiritual and worldly support for the Holy Land. As a result, the order offers countless prayers and millions of dollars annually to build, operate, maintain, and expand schools, youth centers, hospitals, seminaries, homes for religious, pre- and post-natal clinics, and the only Catholic institution of higher education in Israel, Bethlehem University.
“Our primary aim is personal sanctification,” stresses Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the worldwide order. “I am convinced that with this focus on holiness, the charism [to support the people and shrines of the Holy Land] comes into full bloom.”
The charitable order grew out of the need to govern Jerusalem after Godfrey de Bouillon and his crusaders freed the city from Muslim control in July 1099. The resulting “Order of Canons” included knights who had exhibited noticeable leadership skills and Christian charity. These soldiers-turned-protectors would take the Augustinian Rule of poverty and obedience and swear to defend the Holy Sepulchre (the site of Christ’s resurrection) and other Christian shrines.
Over time, many of the knights returned to Europe and Muslim armies retook Jerusalem. But with the aid of political and ecclesial encouragement, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem founded priories throughout Europe that kept alive its original oaths and charitable goals. With the restoration of Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarchate in 1847, Pope Pius IX placed the order under the full protection of the Holy See. A century later, Pius XII ordered that a prince of the Church would hold the role of the order’s Grand Master. Subsequent pontiffs brought even more structure.
What has not changed, however, is the order’s commitment to the Bishop of Rome and to Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch. The order thus serves as a bridge between the Church in the West and the people in the Middle East—especially Christians, who often find themselves caught in the midst of the regional political, social, and economic difficulties.
“The Christian minority living in the Holy Land increasingly faces the challenge of practicing their faith in the midst of conflict and turmoil,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM, Cap., archbishop of Boston and Grand Prior of the order’s Northeast United States Lieutenancy.
The Two Sides of China’s Party | Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D. | Catholic World Report
Remembering Fr. Charles McCarthy, SJ, an American Jesuit in Shanghai.
I have lived in China
several times since my first stay in 1996, when I lived in Beijing as a Chinese
language student. Deng Xiaoping was still alive then, and people thought that
China was emerging from its hard-line era of Chairman Mao. And much has indeed
changed since Deng took office and reformed China’s economic policies. I am
once again in Beijing, this time during the Eighteenth Party Congress:
newspapers, television specials, and long red banners with Communist slogans
have covered the city in a “Red” canvas of optimism, and . . . propaganda. Here
is one example: turning the corner after Mass this morning was an enormous red
banner reminiscent of the Maoist era. “Long live the great people of China!
Long live the great Communist Party of China! (伟大的中国人民万岁！伟大的中国共产党万岁！).” Slogans
such as these are being given new birth as China struggles to redefine itself
as a Communist country that is growing more conspicuously wealthy as Western
countries grow more economically challenged. Exiting from the subway I saw
still another banner extolling how Socialism will “manifest a great resurgence
of the Chinese people! (实现中华民族伟大的复兴！).”
As the Party Congress continued, I thought it would be opportune to write a
column on the other side of the Party, one that only fifty years ago imprisoned
foreign priests, nuns, and Chinese Catholics, accusing them of being “spies,”
“saboteurs’,” and “counterrevolutionaries.” One of the priests arrested in the
1950s was Father Charles McCarthy, a Jesuit from the California Province who
lived and served in Shanghai until the Party arrested him and placed him in a
small prison cell.
An American Jesuit in
China: From California to Shanghai
The great German polymath, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once wrote, “The moment
one commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to
help. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor
all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could
have dreamed would come his way.” Some rare and adventurous missionaries in
China have left such extraordinary footprints in the Middle Kingdom so as to
confirm Goethe’s assertion. Father Charles McCarthy, SJ, was such a man, whose
uncommon mixture of intellect and piety fashioned one of China’s most tireless
evangelists for the Gospel, and a gentle friend of the Chinese people.
McCarthy’s life in China is hardly imaginable to most people; he was detained
twice while in Asia, interned first by the Japanese from 1942-1945, and then
later imprisoned by the Chinese from 1953-1957 during the radical Maoist era,
and through all of his trials Fr. McCarthy remained an unwavering example of
the Ignatian spirit, to, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola advised his successors,
“give and not count the cost.”
Unlike most of the others who have given their recommendations, I have no hesitation in picking my favorite book – The Shadow of His Wings.
While Ignatius Press has many wonderful and powerful books, this one is
my favorite by far (the only other one that comes close is Tony Ryan’s
recommended Fire Within).
When this book was first recommended to us, Fr. Fessio was the first to
read it. I remember how excited he was to tell us about it. His
enthusiasm was infectious so I asked for the manuscript. I was
completely mesmerized. I could not put it down and finished it in less
than two days. My first question was “is this real; could this have
really happened?” The feeling of excitement has not left me in the 12
years since we’ve published this book. I have recommended this book at
every opportunity - which is often since I work conferences for Ignatius
Press. I have had many people come back and tell me how much this book
has changed their lives.
There is no need to tell you about the story – you can read about it on
our website. Just know that it has it all: war, redemption, Nazis, guns
(to a bishop’s head by our hero), concentration camps, Himmler,
spiritual battles, miracles, Lourdes, and above all else, the astounding
stories of the power of prayer.
I have been working for Ignatius Press almost 20 years and in all that
time I have never seen another book receive a personal write-up in our
catalog (I wrote it). Check it out – it’s still the current product
description on our website. Once there, do yourself a favor and buy
(and read!) this wonderful book. The Shadow of His Wings is also available as an e-book.
Muntean, Marketing Manager, was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her family
escaped Communism in a trunk of a car through the Iron Curtain in 1967.
After a major spiritual “reversion” to her faith, she quit her secular
job and joined the Ignatius Press family in 1993. She is one of the
founders of the Walk for Life in San Francisco. She lives happily in her favorite city of San Francisco with her dog, Mia.
Pick of the Week program features savings of 40% off a book, movie, or
compact disc personally chosen and recommended by an Ignatius Press
Vladivostok Mission Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
The Catholic mission in Vladivostok, Russia brings the light of Christ to a poverty-stricken and highly secularized region.
With the collapse of the Soviet
Union in 1991, the Catholic faith was officially allowed to return to Russia
after more than seven decades of life under what Pope Pius XI called “atheistic
communism.” Since that time, Catholics have established missions in
Russia, serving Catholics living within the country’s borders and performing
charitable works. Out of deference to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Vatican
does not consider Russia “mission territory,” and so these communities do not
receive funding from the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith or engage
in overt evangelism.
In 1992, Father Myron Effing and
Brother (now Father) Daniel Maurer, two Americans from the Midwest, felt called
to serve the Russian people. They went to Vladivostok, a city in Far Eastern
Russia with about 600,000 people, and founded the Canons Regular of Jesus the
Lord and the Mary Mother of God Mission Society
to support their work. Although re-establishing the Faith has been
challenging in a society that has been thoroughly secularized, the work of the
priests has flourished in
the 20 years since the Vladivostok mission was founded, and the future looks promising.
Poverty, crime, and broken families
Vladivostok is a Pacific Ocean
port city, not far from the China and North Korea borders. It has a cool to
mild northern climate, and is often foggy. Its industries include shipping and
fishing, and it is home to a large Russian naval base.
Christianity came to Russia 1,000
years ago, and the first Catholic missionaries arrived in the Russian Far East
180 years ago. Soviet rule virtually wiped out the Church in the area; an
estimated 7,000 Catholics in the region were martyred for their faith.
In 1992, Father Myron and Brother
Daniel learned that there was an acute need for priests in Vladivostok (as well
as all of Russia). They visited the city at the invitation of the diocesan
bishop. At that time, he was located in Novosibirsk, Siberia—2,300 miles away
“as the crow flies,” but more than 3,000 miles in a car or airplane because one
must travel around China.
Unity of Faith in a Diversity of Traditions | Christopher B. Warner | Catholic World Report
Pope Benedict XVI’s plan for enriching cooperation among the Churches of the Middle East
impossible not to notice the colorful, varied display of liturgical vestments
and clerical garb during the recent papal visit to Lebanon. The rich cultural
diversity among Christians in the Middle East gives witness to the Apostolic
traditions which began to develop almost immediately and independently from
each other at the very beginning of Christianity. As the Apostles spread the
gospel and worship of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the known world,
distinct liturgical traditions naturally burgeoned as local churches took root.
liturgical traditions of the Catholic Church were conspicuously present by the
end of the fourth century and are still celebrated in Lebanon and throughout
the Middle East today: the Liturgy of St. Mark (Coptic and Ethiopian), the
Liturgies of Sts. John Chrysostom and Basil (Greek Melkite), the Liturgy of St.
James (Maronite, Syrian, and Syro-Malankara), the East Syrian Liturgy (Chaldean
and Syro-Malabar), the Armenian Liturgy, and the Latin Mass.
XVI strongly affirmed this diversity of traditions as a harmony within the unity
of faith in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation “The Church in the Middle East,”
which was signed and distributed to the major hierarchs during his recent visit
Like my Predecessors in the
See of Peter, I wish here to state once more my desire to ensure that the rites
of the Eastern Churches, as the patrimony of the whole Church of Christ in which
shines forth the tradition coming down from the Apostles through the Fathers,
and which, in its variety, affirms the divine unity of the Catholic faith, are
observed and promoted conscientiously.
Pope Benedict dedicated a large portion of
this exhortation to urging the different Churches to pray, learn, and work
together in order to promotes true communion among Christians and true peace,
which he defined as “the state of those who live in harmony with God and with
themselves, with others and with nature.” He invited the Catholics of the
various ecclesial communities to foster relationships with each other and to be
mutually engaged in one another’s traditions.
“We have to go where the suffering and dying are” | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
Military chaplains bring the light of Christ to some of the world’s darkest places.
On September 4, the
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA honored one of its outstanding
military chaplains, Vietnam War hero and Medal of Honor recipient Father
Vincent R. Capodanno, MM, with a special memorial Mass in Washington, DC. Dubbed
“the Grunt Padre,” Father Capodanno was killed on a Vietnam battlefield in 1967
while administering to wounded and dying US Marines; he was officially
proclaimed a “Servant of God” in 2006 and his cause for beatification has been
initiated. Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy P. Broglio was the main
celebrant of the memorial Mass, which was held at the Basilica of the National
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. During his homily he called on those
present to remember Father Capodanno’s sacrifice and to “continue his Maryknoll
missionary spirit, his Marine courage, and his absolute fidelity to his
ministry as a priest in service to all.”
As evidenced by
the example of Father Capodanno, military chaplains play a vital role in attending
to the spiritual needs of a unique community that often finds itself in adverse
circumstances. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI described the role of a military
chaplain as bringing about “renewed adhesion to Christ,” setting the bar of
“holiness as the high measure of Christian life in response to the new pastoral
chaplains must do their work despite dwindling numbers; in the last decade the
number of Catholic military chaplains has fallen from 400 to 260. CWR recently spoke with four military
chaplains, both active and retired, about their service.
Watching the Olympic Games on NBC has been more than frustrating. The actual events are cleverly isolated midst ad after ad, and chatter after chatter, on the screen. In frustration, I turned to a Spanish station that showed soccer, boxing, and races that were not yet available on NBC, which seems exclusively interested in what Americans do at the Games. No doubt, Ethiopian, German, or Chinese television networks feature their respective athletes.
I suppose that if I were in London, the logistics of getting to where separate events were actually happening would be daunting. No one could see everything as it was happening. And while each event has its own history and fascination, some people will be bored by swimming and others enthused by shooting or the pole vault. But, no doubt, something worth watching can be found in any event.
In the course of two weeks, we see boxing, rowing, equestrian events, track, shooting, jumping, vaulting, diving, swimming, weight-lifting, judo, volley ball, field hockey, basketball, soccer, wrestling, ping pong, gymnastics, badminton, hurdles, and marathons. The only things missing are football (American, Australian, Irish, and Canadian), sailing, baseball, poker, golf, lacrosse, hunting dogs, cock fights, bass fishing, auto racing, tractor pulls, and horse shoes. We see the world's fastest men and women, as well as the strongest, the most agile, and the most enduring. When we finally are allowed un-interruptedly to watch a complete event, it is precisely a spectacle, something to behold, to watch, fascinated.
Aside from the occasional athlete who blesses himself before a race, the heavy garb of some Muslim women, and the "God" when "God Save the Queen" is sung in honor of some British gold medalist, we see or hear no indication of religion, aside from shots of Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's. The opening and closing ceremonies feature no blessings. Perhaps it is just as well. Security is difficult enough as it is.
Yet, the Olympics did have religious origins in their Greek beginnings. Mt. Olympus was the home of the gods.
The idea that men did their best before the gods is not to be ignored. And what could men do? Were there any limits? Is there something finite about us?
Eleven Churches Not to Miss When You Visit Chicago | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
In a city shaped by immigrant communities, beautiful historic churches reflect the faith and hard work of generations of Catholics.
Chicago is known for its many beautiful and historically significant buildings, not the least of which are its Catholic churches. In the city there are about 365 Catholic churches, which for nearly two centuries have invited the faithful to come and worship their Creator.
This summer, I took a tour of four of these churches in what were originally Polish neighborhoods with Nell Andrzejewski, director of Catholic Church Tours. She refers to Chicago as “Little Rome” because of its many churches built in the old European style. As various immigrant groups came to the United States, they moved into often modest neighborhoods and built grand churches, which would serve as a hub for their communities. And while the ethnicities of these communities would change over time, their houses of worship would endure.
Since Nell began her touring company two years ago, she said, “I’ve fallen in love with the beauty of the Church.”
Each building has something to teach us about the Faith, she continued, and she sees the structures as “poetry in concrete.”
Here are profiles of these four churches, followed by suggestions from Nell and CWR readers of others that are well worth a visit.
The Napa Institute’s 2nd Annual Conference, “Catholics In the Next America”, will be held from Thursday, July 26th to Sunday, July 29th. The event will feature an impressive array of speakers and participants, including Archbishiop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop Robert C. Morlino, Bishop Robert F. Vasa, Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Rev. Robert Barron, Rev. Joseph D. Fessio, S.J., Rev. Norbert Wood, O.Praem., Peter Kreeft, Hugh Hewitt, Frank J. Hanna, III, Dr. Tim Gray, Dr. Elizabeth F. Yore, and Leonard A. Leo.
The event is hosted by Rev. Robert Spitzer, S.J., the President of Napa Institute, and Timothy R. Busch, Esq., who is CEO of the Institute; Fr. Spitzer will also be a featured speaker at the conference.
The three intertwining themes of the 2012 conference, says Busch, are faith and reason, Catholic education and religious freedom. “In the wake of HHS mandate”, Busch notes, “religious freedom is certainly the topic of the day. However, it’s not the only pressing issue of the day. The Church is facing the departure of our young adults from not only from the Catholic faith, but from belief in God in general. So Fr. Spitzer will lead the charge on reason and faith at the conference.” Busch also points out that Catholic education is “under siege at the parochial level particularly in urban centers”, with numerous schools closing each year. In light of that challenging fact, he says, “we need to address new school models that will work.”
The pressing topic of religious liberty will be addressed in Thursday’s presentations, including those by Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Morlino. Catholic education will the focus of Friday’s events, including a talk by Fr. Barron (who was recently appointed rector and president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary by Francis Cardinal George), Fr. Spitzer, and Frank Hanna III. Saturday’s schedule includes presentations by Fr. Spitzer, Fr. Barron, and Dr. Kreeft on faith and reason, a topic all three men have spoken and written about extensively for both academic and popular audiences. Breakout sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will include a variety of topics and presenters.
Challenges and Encouragement
The varied and difficult challenges posed by secularism must be addressed directly, says Fr. Spitzer, which is a primary reason for the formation and work of the Napa Institute. “Challenges to religion and the Catholic Church surround us”, he says. “Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and many other atheists are undermining the faith of our youth and adults; the President of the United States insists on forcing our religious institutions to administer artificial contraception against Church teaching; our young people, though optimistic and concerned for others, are becoming increasingly morally relativistic; the media almost luxuriates in scandals which give only a slice of the immensely good reality accomplished by our Church.”
A driving idea behind the conference is that Catholic leaders—whether clergy or laity—need to learn more about these pressing issues from leading thinkers, authors, theologians, and philosophers. “If we are to stand up for our faith in the public square,” Busch states, “we must be educated. The Institute focuses on substance of our Faith by bringing together theologians, philosophers and the shepherds of our church for instruction, discussion, and mutual encouragement.”
The Napa Institute was founded as a response to the call for a New Evangelization, intended to help Catholics address the challenged posed by the “next America”—one that is increasingly secular and even anti-religious. A key component of the New Evangelization, as articulated by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, explains Fr. Spitzer, “is the active participation by our lay leaders. We expect our priests, religious, and catechists to respond to the challenges put to faith and morals in our day, but we minimize our effectiveness when we do not prepare our lay leaders to do this for the organizations, educational boards, governmental agencies and political arenas over which they have considerable influence.”
Worship and Spiritual Edification
To that end, the Napa Institute Conference focuses not only on reason and teaching, but also on the spiritual life and worship. Participants will be able to spend time in Eucharistic adoration, available around the clock in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Grapes, and to participate in prayer and worship each day. On Saturday evening there will be Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Solemn Vespers and a Sacred Music Concert, featuring St. Dominic’s Choir. And the conference will conclude on Sunday morning with four liturgies: a Solemn Pontifical Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of Mass in the Extraordinary Form celebrated by His Excellency, Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone; Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Novus Ordo); Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Byzantine Rite); and Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Novus Ordo, Latin). The music at the High Mass will sung by the Pacific Collegium choir.
Those who are unable to attend, says conference director Luke Miller, will be able to take advantage of the presentations via television, radio, and internet. A crew from Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) will be at the conference to film keynote sessions, selected breakout sessions, and some of the liturgical services. “Following the conference”, says Miller, “highlights from the Napa Institute will be broadcasted on the EWTN Global Catholic Network. We are truly blessed to be working with the leader in Catholic media as we equip Catholics ‘in the next America.’” Parts of those broadcasts will also be made available on YouTube. In addition, broadcaster Al Kresta will be on site, hosting his Ave Maria Radio program, “Kresta in the Afternoon”, live from the conference.
Last year’s conference, Miller says, was a great success, and he expects close to three hundred participants at this year’s event. For more information or to register, visit the Napa Institute website (www.napa-institute.org) or call 949-474-7368 (ext. 216).
The Voices of 20th-Century Chinese Martyrs | Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D. | Catholic World Report
The stories of those Catholics persecuted under Mao are powerful, if often suppressed, evidence of the faith of the Chinese people.
The truth is always more complicated than fiction. While it is tempting to portray the Church in China in monochrome, a more accurate depiction provides us with a polychromatic canvas, and this more truthful painting casts more honest lights on both China and the Church. Let me give you an example.
When the founder of the Society of the Divine Word, Johann Baptist von Anzer, established his mission in China during the late 19th century, he brought with him an intense German nationalism, just as the French Jesuits had carried French nationalism with them when they built churches, schools, and French market areas in Shanghai. When Anzer arrived at his mission he draped a massive German flag from his church steeple and above the veranda of his rectory he installed a sign that read, “Vivat, crescat, floreat Germania,” or “May Germany live, flourish, and grow.” German nationalist songs were often intoned from his chapel with brio, and the native Chinese wondered if missionaries like him came to convert China or colonize it. Only a short decade previously, Britain had bombed China’s shores and bullied its court into legalizing the sale of Western opium, as well as to open all China to foreign missionaries. It did not help matters that Christian missionaries were thereafter connected to guns and opium in the eyes of most Chinese. There is little mystery, then, why common Chinese had become suspicious of Westerners and their religion. But despite appearances, most missionaries were not in favor of guns and opium, nor were most missionaries in favor of open displays of European nationalism.
I often tell my students that propaganda involves telling only one side of a story. And the more they read about history based on primary sources the more they agree with this assertion. Too often, historical monographs provide biased and un-nuanced depictions of the past, recounting a history that validates one’s preconceptions rather than explain what really happened.
GerolamoFazzini’s The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs, acollection of primary biographies, autobiographies, and documentation of Catholic martyrdom in modern China, provides readers with first-hand testimonies of the turbulent Maoist era; readers can decide for themselves how to interpret China’s policies regarding the Catholic Church from 1949 until Mao’s death in 1976. And by presenting these sources unedited, Fazzini avoids propaganda, allowing those witnesses to present both the brutal years of suppression and the more lenient years that followed Mao.
The Maoist interpretation of Christianity in China was formed both by Mao’s knowledge of Western imperialism (mixed as it was with mission churches marked by foreign flags) and Marxist materialism, which views religion as a form of self-comfort under the yoke of class exploitation. There is almost no evidence that Mao, or his comrades, truly understood the history, belief, and goals of Christianity apart from its nationalist underpinnings. While there were a few Christian missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, who indeed embraced the imperialist enterprise in China, it is incontestable that the greater majority of these foreigners loved China and expressed that love through unselfish acts of charity. The manifest value of Fazzini’s book is that it consists of a collection of original testimonies by Chinese Catholics who demonstrate a profound love of their own culture, while also expressing an abiding belief in God in an era of forceful transition. We do well to recall as we read these testimonies that it was not Chinese culture that most harshly persecuted Christianity, but rather Western Marxist materialism that inspired the suppression of all religious commitment.
Twelve Churches Not to Miss When You Visit California | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
Many beautiful, historic churches reflect the Golden State’s rich Catholic heritage.
California is home to many beautiful Catholic churches, reflections of the faith of their people. As summer is here and California is a favorite destination of tourists, the following is a profile of 12 Catholic churches in the Golden State—one in each of its 12 dioceses—not to miss when visiting. It is just a sampling of the impressive churches California has to offer; many others could have been selected for the list.
The Chicago area is the next region to be featured in this “Churches Not to Miss” series at Catholic World Report. What is your favorite Chicago-area church (including suburbs)? Email your suggestions, with a description of what makes your church special, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Carmelite House of Prayer was originally a mansion built to be the home of a wealthy industrialist, David Doak. Its landscaping was done by John McLaren, designer of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Doak died in 1921, the same year the mansion was completed. A benefactor, Noel Sullivan, bought the mansion and 29 acres of surrounding property and donated it to the Discalced Carmelites in 1955. It was used as a house of formation until 1981, when the facility was designated as a house of prayer and retreat center.
It is located in Northern California, in the Diocese of Santa Rosa. There are six priests and two brothers who live at the House of Prayer currently. Penance and prayer are themes of the community; members are typically orthodox, experienced, and pious. The grounds are beautiful and serene, and the community tries to maintain the peace and quiet necessary for the cultivation of prayer. Visitors are welcome, either for Mass and confession or for retreats and days of recollection.
What’s Next for Faith and Freedom in Cuba? | Jordan Allott | Catholic World Report
Cuban opposition leaders struggle to remain hopeful despite disappointment in the wake of Pope Benedict’s visit.
For three days in late March, Pope Benedict XVI traveled across Cuba on a tightly choreographed spiritual pilgrimage. During his trip, Benedict met with government and Church officials, celebrated large public masses in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, and made statements meant to lift the spirits of the communist country’s citizens, including its six million Catholics.
I was in Cuba during the Pope’s visit, my third trip there in four years. I traveled to Cuba, in part, to learn how the Cuban people would respond to the papal visit. I also wanted to know whether Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage would contribute to lasting spiritual renewal and political change in Cuba.
I spent a lot of my time with Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet at his home in Havana. Biscet is one of Cuba’s most prominent dissident leaders and a devout Christian. Last year he was released from prison after nearly 12 years of incarceration for his human rights work. I asked Biscet about the meaning of the Pope’s visit.
“We want Pope Benedict XVI to offer his support to the poor people in Cuba, to the weak, to the rejected,” he said. “And if he does, the freedom of the Cuban people may be accomplished very soon, because this would result in many voices being raised in favor of the Cuban people and for the respect of their basic human rights.”
The Pope’s trip was dubbed by the Vatican as “pastoral in nature,” as he was celebrating the 400th anniversary of the miraculous finding of the statue of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. But any trip to Cuba by a head of state or religious leader involves politics.
Hundreds of Cuban opposition leaders were detained during the Pope’s visit. Others were placed under house arrest, instructed not to attend any of the Pope’s public events, or had their cell phone connections disrupted.
The Vatican actually has a council that deals with the pastoral care of tourists. It met in Cancun, Mexico, not an unknown tourist resort, April 23-27. Benedict directed a short but significant letter to the members attending.
“Tourism,” Benedict remarks, “is certainly a phenomenon characteristic of our times.” Almost all modern popes, of course, have spoken of tourism. John Paul II himself may have been the all-time top traveller of our time. It is estimated that he was seen in person by more human beings than any other man in history.
Moreover, the Vatican itself is probably the number one tourist destination in the world. In my Roman years (1965-77), I was ever struck by the numbers and varieties of tourists who came to Rome. But I also observed the fact that those popes who built churches, basilicas, chapels, and who sponsored art and gardens, were centuries ahead of their time. They were major contributors to Italian prosperity and Vatican uniqueness because they built and sponsored things of beauty.
So tourism is not just a phenomenon of our time. It goes back to Herodotus, to medieval pilgrims, to early modern explorers, to the Grand Tour, to the charm and perhaps illusion of different places. What Benedict wants to add to the fact of tourism is that “like other human realities, it is called to be enlightened and transformed by the Word of God.” The Church is not at all opposed to this opportunity of people to travel and meet others, but it is also aware of the darker side of tourism.
One of the names given to man, besides animal rationale, homo ludens, animal sociale, is homo viator, man the traveler, a phrase Benedict himself uses. The great travel stories and adventures are essential to human history and human reality. We have a sense that we must see more than ourselves and our local scenes, however much they are home to us.
Travel is not immigration; the traveler intends to return home having seen something of the world. The traveler can only catch glimpses of what is new and distant from his own local world. Often he does not know the language or customs of what he sees. He is both bewildered and fascinated. He knows he is not at home, yet he sees that other people are at home in places he does not know.
Belonging Without Believing | Michael Kelly | Catholic World Report
While 84 percent of Irish people self-identify as Catholics, support for key Church teachings is at an all-time low.
During a meeting at the Vatican in 1946, Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini—the future Pope Paul VI—told Ireland’s ambassador to the Holy See, “You are the most Catholic country in the world!” The latest figures from the country’s census show that, in some respects at least, Ireland remains an overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Bucking a trend all across Western Europe, the census recorded that the Catholic population in Ireland rose by around 5 percent from 2006-2011. Eighty-four percent of Irish people now describe themselves as Catholic.
That headline figure, however, masks a Church in deep trouble, with many of her priests appearing to no longer hold the Catholic faith. This fact was noted in the report of the recent Apostolic Visitation to Ireland, which mentioned a “certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious, and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium.”
“This serious situation requires particular attention, directed principally towards improved theological formation,” the visitation report said, going on to point out that “it must be stressed that dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal.”
Underlining the problem, a recent survey of Irish priests found that 60 percent of respondents wanted the Church to change its teaching to permit women priests. Just 30 percent of priests surveyed supported the Church’s teaching on this crucial issue.
One priest insisted that “women priests would have a lot to offer in many ways. They are good listeners, more understanding, and very sensitive to peoples’ needs.”
“Women priests are doing a great job in other Christian churches,” he insisted.
In the same survey, 78 percent of surveyed priests said they thought Catholic clergy ought to be allowed to get married. Sixty-seven percent said they felt Irish bishops were “too subservient” to the Holy See.
Perhaps exposing a fault line, however, 96 percent of those priests who responded had been ordained for more than 10 years. Anecdotal evidence suggests that younger priests are, by-and-large, more orthodox.
China’s Church: Awakening the Dream of Hope | Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D. | Catholic World Report
There is plenty of bad news to be heard about Catholics in China. But there is good news that usually goes unreported.
Courage in a Time of Uncertainty
Aristotle famously wrote that, “Hope is a waking dream.” Hope, to indeed be hope, must awake; it must be a dream that is made real. China’s dreams for religious freedom and tolerance have for nearly a century been slumbering under a strong anesthetic, but recent months have shown slow but tangible signs of waking. China’s Catholics have embraced the “new evangelization,” and have decided that, as J R. R. Tolkien once said, “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
As I write this column I am aware of the recent arrests of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin and his chancellor, Father Jiang Sunian; they are scheduled to undergo ideological classes: brainwashing. Only two months ago, Bishop John Ruowang was also arrested and forced to attend government classes. In fact, the bureau chief of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department met with representatives of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association on March 2, and exhorted them to “convert the underground community.” What the media often fails to mention is that the two Catholic communities – sanctioned and unsanctioned – collaborate more often than they conflict. Despite official exhortations, “above ground” clergy are more interested in converting non-Christians than in the playing ideological games with their fellow Catholics. The state continues its old antics, and the world watches critically as it coerces and controls the Catholic Christians who desire little more than freedom to love and serve God, as well as love their country.
But I shall focus my remarks here on more optimistic news.
I am often struck by the irony that China’s Catholics, who have less access to papal encyclicals, are more interested in them than many American Catholics, some of whom it seems are unaware such encyclicals exist. The Holy Father’s 2005 encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, has had a weighty effect on the routine lives of Chinese Catholics, and its opening line, “天主是爱” (God is love), has inspired a renewal of charity and evangelization throughout the country, and the first few months of 2012 have seen a precipitous rise in Catholic outreach and catechumens. A Chinese priest in Rome has provided me with several reports of hope from within China’s long suffering Church. In typically euphemistic language, the Chinese nuns of Guangxi went to a small leper community in the rural mountains to, as they said, “bring spring to winter.” In order to “be the hands and feet of Christ” in their “winter” of suffering, these sisters brought “smiles and gifts” to the forgotten victims of leprosy.
The Continuing Struggle for the Soul of Cuba | Jordan Allott | Catholic World Report
In the wake of Pope Benedict's visit, Cuban Catholics express frustration and anger as the Castro regime continues political repression and religious persecution.
A day before Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to Cuba on March 26, I was in Arroyo Naranjo, one of Havana’s poorest areas, meeting with Lilvio Fernandez Luis, a Catholic and the leader of JACU, or Joventud Activa Cuba Unida. Lilvio spent the day showing me the life he has worked hard to create—a life built on a strong family and the courage to fight against the repression that the Cuban government has inflicted on its people for more than 53 years.
When I spoke with him, Lilvio wasn’t planning to attend the papal Mass at the Plaza de Revolution in the center of Havana on March 28. “I will attend Mass here at my home parish of St. Barbara just two blocks away,” he explained. “If I try and leave my neighborhood on the day of the Mass, I will most likely be detained by state security.”
Lilvio’s situation was not unique. Although the Church’s goal was to reach out to the Cuban people during Pope Benedict’s visit, many individuals and families found it difficult or impossible to participate in the three days of events organized by the Cuban Catholic Church and Vatican with permission from the island’s Communist government. Despite the government’s limitations, however, Lilvio and almost everyone I talked to during my time in Havana believed the Pope’s trip would be a positive spiritual experience, if not a positive political experience, for the people of Cuba.
Throughout the past five decades, the Communist government of Fidel and Raul Castro has consistently repressed institutions and organizations not under their strict control. Soon after the 1959 revolution, Fidel Castro declared Cuba an atheistic state and reduced the Church's ability to work among the people by deporting hundreds of priests and nuns, seizing all Church properties, and imprisoning and executing countless Catholics and others who expressed faith in God. As the decades passed, Christians continued to face severe discrimination.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, however, the Cuban government felt the need to ease up on its repression against the Church in order to receive economic concessions from Europe—aid it had previously received from the USSR. In 1992, Cuba declared itself a secular state and permitted Catholics and others to join the Communist Party, the country’s only legal political party.
In 1998, Pope John Paul II made a historic visit to Cuba. It was Cuba’s first papal visit, and the trip ignited hope amongst those who remembered John Paul II’s journeys to his native Poland (then Communist) in 1979. The Pope’s visits helped initiate the Solidarity Movement that ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
During his five-day visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II held meetings with Fidel Castro and religious leaders, and celebrated public Masses in several cities. John Paul II spoke often about the nation’s need for individual responsibility, strong families, and a culture of life. With his visit, Pope John Paul II brought spiritual hope not only to Roman Catholics, but also to the many other Christians and non-believers who attended the various public Masses and celebrations.
But certain topics were off limits during the Pope’s visit, including any public discussion of Cuba’s political prisoners.