Catholic.net News Report: April 28, 2011.
Pittsburgh church celebrates with new auxiliary bishop
PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- Expressing hope that he will be a credit to the people from whom he has come, Bishop William J. Waltersheid was consecrated as the ninth auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh in joyous ceremonies April 25 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. "I'm really just a kid from the coal region -- that is who I am," he said in addressing the gathering. "But someone who has known the love of God in his life from the very beginning." The congregation of some 1,200 included 15 bishops, hundreds of priests from the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, numerous women and men religious, and representatives of other faiths. Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik was the principal ordaining bishop. The co-consecrators were Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Philadelphia. "It's a great day for the church of Pittsburgh," said Bishop Zubik prior to the ceremony. "We're receiving such a humble, prayerful, positive man. I think the excitement is in the air, both for the people of Pittsburgh and the people of Harrisburg." Bishop Waltersheid had been serving as secretary for clergy and consecrated life in the Diocese of Harrisburg when his appointment was announced Feb. 25. Having his episcopal ordination on Easter Monday provided the perfect setting, Bishop Waltersheid said, because it highlighted the fact that the attention should be on Christ -- and on the church that the bishop loves with his whole heart.
Vocal Chicago priest suspended after remarks on possible reassignment
CHICAGO (CNS) -- Father Michael Pfleger, the outspoken pastor of an African-American parish on Chicago's South Side, has been suspended from the priesthood after saying he would leave the Catholic Church if he were to be reassigned.Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago informed Father Pfleger of the suspension in a letter dated April 27 and made public by the archdiocese.The cardinal told the priest that he had "already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish" after saying in national and local media interviews that he would refuse any assignment other than as pastor of St. Sabina Church. Father Pfleger's remarks, Cardinal George wrote, "short-circuited" efforts that had been under way for weeks assigning Father Pfleger as president of Leo Catholic High School so he could continue working in the same neighborhood in which he was a pastor for nearly 30 years. "A Catholic priest's inner life is governed by his promises, motivated by faith and love, to live chastely as a celibate man and to obey his bishop," Cardinal George wrote. "Breaking either promise destroys his vocation and wounds the church." Parishioners and supporters planned to rally in support of Father Pfleger and meet with the media April 28 at the cardinal's residence.
Catholic teachers urged to find new ways to educate on death penalty
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille and an international voice against the death penalty, urged educators at the National Catholic Educational Association convention April 27 to approach the issue in bold new ways with students who are increasingly opposed to capital punishment. "We want to talk to every teacher here and talk about conversations and partnering to get into the curriculum because kids are getting it," Sister Helen told thousands of attendees during a general session at the three-day annual convention attended by more than 7,000 Catholic educators. The author of "Dead Man Walking," a book which chronicled the sister's role as a spiritual adviser to two Louisiana men who were executed, said a poll commissioned by the U.S. bishops in 2002 showed 48 percent of Catholic adults opposed the death penalty while 58 percent of Catholics under the age of 30 opposed it. "That there's a shift. And it's because of you," Sister Helen told the educators. When the U.S. bishops established the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty in 2005 they published a pamphlet explaining the church's opposition. Sister Helen said she asked the bishops if her group, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, could provide resources and strategies for schools and parishes.To that end, the group has offered a one-act play, the "Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project," written by filmmaker-actor Tim Robbins, for free performances by schools and churches. The group has also developed parish workshops and school and religious education curricula for students to discuss the death penalty.
Catholic offertory giving may have rebounded after recessionary lull
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic parishes seemed to have weathered the recession of 2008, according to a study issued April 27.The study, "Holy Toll," conducted by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, part of the interfaith Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, noted that more than half -- 57 percent -- of Catholic parishes said their offertory collections had declined either "a lot or a little" during the recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.The Catholic numbers, gleaned from earlier research conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, also said 13 percent of parishes studied indicated their offertory revenues had dipped but then rebounded, while 30 percent said they saw no change or had grown. Asked about their current financial situation, an equal percentage of parishes -- 40 percent each -- said it was "good or excellent" or "tight," while the remaining 20 percent said their parish was experiencing "some" or "serious" difficulty. The Catholic numbers would appear to mirror that of 26 other denominational groups, the vast majority of them Christian, studied in "Holy Toll: The Impact of the 2008 Recession on American Congregations." Frank Butler, executive director of Friends and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, told Catholic News Service in an April 26 telephone interview that the size of Catholic parishes compared to congregations of other faiths may help shield it from the impact of an economic downturn.
Maryknoll history traces long path of service in diverse locales
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two priests, one common vision of mission to the world. Father James A. Walsh, a priest from the Archdiocese of Boston who founded the Catholic Foreign Mission Bureau, and Father Thomas F. Price, a diocesan priest from North Carolina, both envisioned a U.S. Catholic mission to people around the world. Their discussion during the 21st International Eucharistic Congress in Montreal in 1910 led to their founding the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America -- now known as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers -- a year later with the blessing of Pope Pius X. Within a year the society expanded to include religious women, the Maryknoll Sisters. Soon the society accepted brothers and then lay missionaries, who today serve in 26 countries. Maryknoll is observing its centennial and is the U.S. church's official missionary arm. Father Walsh, who was consecrated a bishop in 1933 in Rome, made his first journey to Asia in 1917 to find a mission field in China for priests of the order. He was given the mission of Yeungkong and Loting. Before long Maryknoll had missionary priests and sisters in Japan, Korea and the Philippines. Bishop Walsh died at Maryknoll headquarters north of New York City in 1936 at age 69, but his vision of American service as missionaries around the world was being carried out by new leaders. For his work as co-founder of the Maryknoll society and a missionary, he is being promoted for sainthood by the order. A formal presentation of his case is being prepared for the Archdiocese of New York.