Category Archives: Catholicism

Father Corapi … live!

by Patrick Novecosky
Legatus Magazine

Father Corapi will preach a one-day retreat in Buffalo on Aug. 15. (George Martell photo)

Father Corapi will preach a one-day retreat in Buffalo on Aug. 15. (George Martell photo)

Father John Corapi has a profound way of telling it like it is. The renowned preacher’s booming baritone cuts through the clutter of easy answers and points to the fundamentals of our faith. The dynamic evangelist, who fashioned his ministry around the mold of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, suspended his hectic travel schedule two years ago, then fell ill.

Now restored to health, Fr. Corapi will preach one-day retreat on the Holy Spirit in Buffalo to more than 15,000 people on Aug. 15. EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo will speak at the conference, and Catholic Answers Live host Jerry Usher will serve as emcee. Father Corapi spoke to Legatus Magazine editor Patrick Novecosky from his headquarters in Montana.

How is your health these days?

Excellent. I was incapacitated for about eight months. Even the Mayo Clinic had difficulty getting the diagnosis right. It turned out to be two very simple things: an acute Vitamin D deficiency and chronic sleep deprivation. Those two things together disrupted my immune system. Now I’m back to normal.

The topic of my doctoral thesis in dogmatic theology was on the meaning of Christian suffering in the teaching of Pope John Paul II. So we always have to look at the transcendent dimension of something like sickness or suffering and realize it’s not a useless thing. It can be a channel for grace. Pope John Paul II’s fantastic apostolic letter on suffering Salvifici Doloris is a synthesis of this.

How has your ministry changed since your recovery?

I never stopped my ministry. I was sick for a while, but I think the part you mean is the traveling. Before I became sick, we had already decided to stop traveling for a while. We had no idea that I would become sick, but if I had my normal 35-40 events per year scheduled it would have been a catastrophe.

The decision to not travel so much is based mainly on my mission, established by my superiors, to preach using the means of social communication — television, radio and the Internet. We reach millions of people that way.

Traveling and doing events is a good thing but, on the hierarchy of effectiveness, it’s much less effort to reach millions of people than going to a conference and only talking to a thousand. Next year we hope to accept a few invitations, but not nearly as many as we used to. With the volume of work we have now, it’s just not physically possible.

The world is going through trying times — both economically and morally. What’s the remedy?

In order to remedy catastrophes like this, it has to be one person at a time. Pope John Paul II said a very profound thing in his post-synod apostolic exhortation on reconciliation and penance. He said that all of the divisions we see in the world — country against country, within individual countries, within families — can all be traced back to divisions within individual human persons called sin.

So the renewal of the country, the world, and the Church comes about one person at a time. Saint Francis of Assisi gave a great example of that. He didn’t set out to reform the Church and the world, he set out to reform himself. He he did such a great job that he ended up reforming the Church — and through the Church, the world.

When enough Catholics become true to their calling, a great power will be unleashed. The reason we have this mess, in my estimation, is because the vast majority of Catholics have not lived their faith. We have a billion Catholics on the face of the earth. If they knew their faith, lived their faith, loved their faith, I assure you that the world would be a very different place.

The United States, the situation would be profoundly different if we had 60-70 million Catholics truly living their faith. But, of course, as many as 80% don’t even go to Mass on Sunday — and that’s a precept! So we have a long way to go. But it has to be kind of grassroots, one person at a time. That is why the Church has always encouraged personal holiness, because that is where the reform is going to come from.

How did the conference in Buffalo come about?

We’ve done several events in the past with Buffalo’s Catholic radio station. They wanted to do a large event, so it fell into place. This is shaping up to be the largest event that I’ve ever preached at. Already 10,000 people are registered.

The topic is going to be on the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a powerful thing to combine Catholic teaching on the Holy Spirit in a very practical and powerful way with the troubled times we find ourselves in. These are no ordinary times. It’s not just a downturn in the economy. We’re already well into a downturn morally, economically, socially. It’s almost cataclysmic. We have the answer. The problem is that we have to convince enough of our own people that there is a problem and teach them how to solve it.

How is the Holy Spirit key to America’s spiritual awakening?

Obviously, they are intimately tied together. I’ve been a harsh critic of ourselves, meaning the Church leadership — priests, bishops and theologians. I don’t think we’ve done a particularly good job in my lifetime. We’ve had great popes; the top of the hierarchy has always been fantastic. But we’ve had a serious problem with “middle management.” There has been a significant problem with bishops and priests. Although, it’s better now than it was 20 years ago. However, the vast majority of Catholics aren’t even going to Church, so we shouldn’t wonder that the Church has been losing its influence on an increasingly secularized society.

You have to ask yourself why people have drifted away. I’m sure there are a lot of societal reasons. We don’t have control over those reasons, but we have control over the reasons inside the Church. You can start with the top. There is an old saying: “The fish stinks from the head down.” Lousy leadership is a disaster.

I once asked an old Carmelite nun why we have a crisis of leadership inside the Church as well as in the secular order. She never batted an eye. She had been a nun for over 60 years and a prioress for decades. She said, “That’s easy. Punishment for sin.” Why do we have bad leadership? Punishment for sin. It’s very biblical. You go back to the Old Testament and you see that leadership was removed from the people of God, the chosen people, because of infidelity to the covenant. They cried out to God because they had no priest, prophet or king. Why not? Because they were unfaithful.

One can recall what happened during the tenure of Pope Paul VI, when he came out with his landmark and prophetic encyclical Humane Vitae. Significant numbers of bishops, priests, theologians and others rejected it. They absolutely rejected it. The majority of Canadian bishops signed the infamous Winnipeg Statement that just categorically rejected Humane Vitae. That kind of rebellion is catastrophic. Paul VI was prophetic with that encyclical and much of what he warned about has come to pass.

The argument can be strongly made that the proliferation of abortion can pretty much be traced to artificial contraception. It’s almost a cause-and-effect kind of thing, and Paul VI warned about that. But large numbers of Church leaders rejected it and were so bold as to even reject it in writing, and that’s not without consequences. There were profound consequences not only in the Church but in the United States, Canada and the whole world. It’s had a profound effect on de-Christianizing the culture.

I always hope that things will get turned around. My mother reminds me periodically that we know the last chapter: We win! So I don’t know when it will get turned around. And don’t think for a minute that the best is going to happen without a bitter fight! We’re just heading into a tremendous period of spiritual and moral combat. We have a situation where the secular order, government and so forth are unashamedly anti-Christian and the Catholic Church is getting the brunt of the attack. I’m sure it’s going to get worse before it gets better. What we have to go through between now and then, I’m not so sure. I hope for the best, but I plan for the worst.

Tell me more about the focus of your ministry.

Before I was ordained, Fr. James Flanagan, the founder of my congregation —the Society Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity — told me that my mission in the Church would be to preach using the means of social communication using Archbishop Fulton Sheen as the model. It took me a few years to get on television and radio, but around 1996 we started to get on EWTN radio and then television — then non-stop Saturday and Sunday night for 12 years.

Now with the Internet, my website is reaching more and more people. We have a weekly webcast called Weekly Wisdom. We’re almost ready with a new redesigned website with new downloadable material. When I started, we were reaching dozens, then hundreds, then thousands. Now it’s up in the millions and tens of millions. EWTN tells me that we reach over 130 countries and territories every week — over 150 million households and that’s just television. We’re also on dozens of Catholic radio networks.

With the Internet, you can say something, put it on your website and before you can blink your eye it’s all over the place. So it’s a very rapid deployment (to use a military term) of news. With all those things together, we are reaching more and more people more effectively.

Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine. An abridged version of this interview was published in the July/August 2009 issue.

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Kresta in the Afternoon

Al Kresta, Ave Maria Radio

Al Kresta, Ave Maria Radio

Al Kresta, host of Kresta in the Afternoon, interviewed me on Monday, May 11, while I was in Amman, Jordan, with Pope Benedict XVI.

Kresta is the President and CEO of Ave Maria Radio, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His show is a nationally syndicated Catholic radio talk show. It’s carried by EWTN Radio and broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Click here to hear the entire 15-minute interview.

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Cartoonist draws on faith

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Breen

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Breen

Steve Breen and his wife, Cathy, had just finished a 54-day novena to St. Joseph when they got the news that he had won his second Pulitzer Prize.

Breen’s cartoons are nationally syndicated and regularly appear in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. Pulitzer judges picked Breen “for his agile use of a classic style to produce wide-ranging cartoons that engage readers with power, clarity and humor.”

A lifelong Catholic, born in 1970, the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist regularly draws cartoons celebrating his faith. His Easter cartoon this year, for example, showed a silhouetted cross at sunrise on Calvary with the caption: “Sustainable power source.”

He spoke with Register correspondent Patrick Novecosky from his office at The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Was the Catholic faith central to your growing up in the Breen house?

Yes, it was. I had a strong Catholic upbringing. I grew up in Huntington Beach, Calif., as the second of eight children. We were your church-every-Sunday, fast-at-Lent, family-Rosary Catholics. We said grace before every meal, prayers before bed, and have a great loving mother who read to us about the saints and taught us the faith.

I went to Catholic elementary school, but my formation there was a little wishy-washy. It wasn’t until I got into college that I got stronger into my faith. That seems counterintuitive because that’s where a lot of young Catholics seem to drift away. But for some reason, I started to get more and more into my faith when I was going to the University of California, Riverside. I went to confession regularly, the Newman Center for Mass, and visited churches in the area.

My cousin was in the seminary, and we would have great theological discussions. So, I grew tremendously in my faith in my early 20s. One of the reasons may have been all the prayers I was saying to find a job and a spouse. Those prayers lifted me to a higher spiritual plateau. I did more spiritual reading, like Introduction to the Devout Life, and I’d defend the faith in discussions with my friends. I’ve always been a proud Catholic and stood out from my peers because of my faith. Let’s face it: Southern California isn’t known as a bastion of traditional Catholicism.

Did you draw a lot as a kid?

Yes, ever since I was 6 or so. As I got into elementary school, I started drawing more for my friends and developing a reputation as being a good artist. I loved the attention. I thought it was fabulous to have something that was special to me. My gift for drawing helped set me apart, and it’s really nice for a young person to have that. It gives them confidence and self-esteem.

I was always able to draw Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. Then, as I got into junior high, did more Mad magazine stuff, cartoons of friends and teachers; I created my own cartoon strips — that kind of stuff. I loved to entertain back then and make my friends laugh.

You were planning on becoming a high school history teacher. How did you get started as a cartoonist?

At age 19, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. I was drawing editorial cartoons for my college newspaper at the time. One of my first ones ran in Newsweek, and that really put the wind in my sails and made me determined to try it as a career. I focused on it like a laser beam, but I couldn’t find a job. There was a recession going on in the early ’90s, so I spent another couple years in college working on a teaching credential. All the while, I was sending out my cartoons to newspapers all over North America that did not have a cartoonist. Literally everywhere, from Hawaii to Maine.

Finally, the Asbury Park Press called me, and they said, “We like your stuff. Can we use one of these?” I would boldly do cartoons on local issues or politicians, so I did some New Jersey issues. They ran a few, which developed into “Would you like to come out here and do an internship?” That developed into a full-time job doing cartoons one day a week and doing pagination the rest of the time. After a year or two, I became a full-time cartoonist. I met my wife in New Jersey, so it turned out to be a really good thing.

How does your faith inform how you perceive the news and interpret that in your cartoons?

Cartooning is all about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. It’s sticking up for the little guy, and that is one of the basic principles of Christianity. I try to show a respect for life in all my work. I’m consistently pro-life on everything from the death penalty to abortion to stem cells and euthanasia — even to being in favor of gun control and [opposing] unjust wars. I think that’s a consistent theme and a Catholic theme.

You dedicated your recent Pulitzer win to your fellow cartoonists across the country who have been laid off. You also admitted that, despite your success, your own position isn’t guaranteed. How does your faith sustain you in these tough times?

God will provide for those who are faithful. He may not always give you what you want, but he will give you what you need. Cathy and I recently finished a 54-day novena to St. Joseph, and right on the heels of it, I won three national awards, including the Pulitzer, so you can draw your own conclusions. Prayer really works, and it’s something that will sustain you — a sustainable power source.

Your editor said, “Steve’s talent lies in his ability to poke fun without getting personal.” Is it a challenge to stay fair and honest in your work without being mean-spirited?

It is, because sometimes you have to pull yourself back, take a pause, look at the cartoon, and ask yourself if it’s fair. Sometimes I’ll look at it and say, “No, it’s not fair. I shouldn’t say this or I should adjust that.” That has happened. Sometimes my editor will point it out to me. If you’re just out for blood or being mean-spirited in the cartoon, you can lose people — especially if you do it on a consistent basis. You’ll come to be known as the cartoonist who is nasty. It’s not that I want to be liked; I don’t want people to write me off as being too harsh and nasty. If I could tone the cartoon down and use some other device, I can reach more people sometimes.

You also created the comic strip “Grand Avenue.”

Yeah, I started it in 1999. I’d always wanted to do a comic strip with kids in it. Kids are so fun, and there’s so much material. But there have already been strips with kids, so I thought, “What if I add something different, like they’re being raised by their grandmother? There are a lot of older readers who might appreciate it.” That’s how it came to be. It’s been a lot of fun. A few years ago, I took in a partner, so I now draw it with Mike Thompson of Detroit. We’re now in 150 newspapers.

You and your wife have four kids, and you’ve written a few children’s books. Tell me about that.

Right. I’ve done two books. The first was Stick in 2007, then in ’08, I had Violet the Pilot. And this fall I have a new book coming out called The Secret of Santa’s Island. I’m a huge fan of Christmas and have always wanted to do a Christmas book. I also love the Charlie Brown Christmas special. So I show the elves watching the Charlie Brown Christmas show on one of the pages.

Getting back to my family, Cathy is from a family of 11 kids. Her dad is Bud McFarlane Sr., the Catholic evangelist. They are a great supportive family. We were married in 1998 and have four kids. Thomas is 10; Patrick is 7, Jack is 4 and Jane is 1.

The three oldest love to draw and color. But with the state of the newspaper industry, I’m telling them not to consider a career in journalism. I’m sure they’ll be great Catholic artists. They might find jobs in Catholic web design or something like that.

Patrick Novecosky writes from Naples, Florida.

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The papal drive-by

The site on the Jordan where Christ was baptized. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

The site on the Jordan where Christ was baptized. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

As the pea gravel crunched beneath my feet, I couldn’t help but think of the Last Supper where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The chalky dust not only covered my shoes, but permeated the air as we walked the path to the spot where tradition says Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.

Just an hour outside of Amman, Jordan, we were about two hours ahead of Pope Benedict’s arrival at the site, part of his four-day visit to the country. It was mid-afternoon on Sunday as our bus dropped off the crush of media covering the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land. Photographers and reporters from around the world were packed into three buses on this hot and dry day. Site staff gave us the option of waiting for the Pope in the parking lot where he would be greeted by Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania — or we could walk a quarter mile down the pea gravel path to the Baptism Site. Most everyone chose the latter.

Waiting for the Pope at the baptism site.

Waiting for the Pope at the baptism site.

Dozens of us scoped out the best vantage point to view (and photograph) the Holy Father, who was to stop at a platform overlooking the spot designated as the place where John the Baptist christened Our Lord in the muddy waters of the Jordan. It wasn’t impressive. Scraggly bushes surrounded the area which seemed to be fed by a tributary from the river itself. However, archeological experts have determined that early Christians built a church to commemorate the spot as the place of Christ’s baptism. When the area flooded, they came back and built again. That resolve has convinced many that this was the biblical site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan described in John 1:28 and John 10:40.

The Holy Father with the King and Queen of Jordan. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

The Holy Father with the King and Queen of Jordan. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

I found a perfect spot to await the Holy Father, only 20 feet from the platform. After chatting with colleagues for about 90 minutes, a convoy of eight-passenger golf carts arrived with security personnel, followed by the Holy Father, the King, Queen, Prince Ghazi among others. The Holy Father’s vehicle stopped for five minutes as a site expert described the scene for the Pope. But rather than disembarking to take in the site from the viewing platform as planned, the papal cart spend on down the path to an awaiting crowd of about 800 pilgrims.

Greg Tarczynski, a well-known photographer for Catholic and other media outlets, had parked himself on the muddy river bank for nearly two hours to get a picture that was not to be. We all scrambled down the path to the stage where the Pope was to bless the cornerstones for two churches planned for the Baptism site — a Latin-rite church already under construction and a Melkite house of worship. However, the military security (who seem just as confused by the papal entourage’s change of plans) held us back. We found out later that we were detained until the royal entourage could leave the area.

The papal entourage.  (Patrick Novecosky photo)

The papal entourage. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

We got to the platform just as the ceremony got under way. I stood on a chair as close as possible to the stage and got a descent shot of the Pope blessing the cornerstones. After the papal convoy departed, we were blessed with an incredible view of the sun setting in the west, finally dipping below the horizon in the land where Jesus walked. A fitting end to a day I won’t soon forget.

Pope Benedict blesses two cornerstones.  (Patrick Novecosky photo)

Pope Benedict blesses two cornerstones. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

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The Good Shepherd

It’s amazing to think that in a country with only 109,000 Catholics, nearly a third of them piled into Amman’s International Stadium on Sunday for an open-air papal Mass. After departing the media center at 6:00 am, I expected the horde of media (yours truly among them) would be among the first to arrive, but a few hundred hearty souls were already in the stands when we pulled shortly after 6:30.

Thousands await Pope Benedict XVI at Amman International Stadium on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

Thousands await Pope Benedict XVI at Amman International Stadium on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

I spent a few hours talking to media from around the world, my colleagues from America, and a few Jordanians. Organizers had tapped the Jordanian Scouts and Girl Guides to help with logistics and crowd control. At least 100 teens dressed in their blue uniforms answered pilgrims’ questions and helped form a human barrier between the congregation and the yellow and white sanctuary on the east side of the stadium. The youth presence at the Mass was impressive. Hundreds of young people cheered and sang long before the Holy Father’s arrival. A song written especially for the papal visit — “Benvenuto Benedetto” (Welcome, Benedict in Italian) — rang through the crowd dozens of times throughout the morning.

Pope Benedict XVI enters Amman International Stadium in the Popemobile on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

Pope Benedict XVI enters Amman International Stadium in the Popemobile on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

True to form, the Holy Father arrived in the Popemobile punctually around 9:30, circling the stadium to the roar of about 30,000 enthusiastic souls. The yellow and white themed sanctuary was decorated with a large image of Christ, the Good Shepherd, because the Eastern Church was celebrating the fourth Week of Easter and Good Shepherd Sunday. They marked Easter one week later than in the West. An image of Mary and John the Baptist, patron of Jordan, also adorned the sanctuary.

Jordanian-born Archbishop Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem, warmly welcomed the Pope in English. He joked that the Church in Jordan is having a “vocations crisis” because its seminary is bursting at the seams and is struggling to find housing for the men eager to enter the priesthood.

Pope Benedict XVI processes to the altar at the beginning of an open air Mass at Amman International Stadium on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

Pope Benedict XVI processes to the altar at the beginning of an open air Mass at Amman International Stadium on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

In his homily, the Pope exhorted the Middle Eastern Christians to stay in the Holy Land and give testimony to Jesus in this region so plagued by conflict.

“Fidelity to your Christian roots, fidelity to the Church’s mission in the Holy Land, demands of each of you a particular kind of courage: the courage of conviction, born of personal faith, not mere social convention or family tradition; the courage to engage in dialogue and to work side by side with other Christians in the service of the Gospel and solidarity with the poor, the displaced, and the victims of profound human tragedies,” he said.

An Iraqi Chaldean Catholic girl awaits her first Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI at Amman International Stadium on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

An Iraqi Chaldean Catholic girl awaits her first Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI at Amman International Stadium on Sunday, May 10. (Patrick Novecosky photo)

The Mass concluded with 40 Iraqi Chaldean children receiving their first Holy Communion. Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Baghdad, was among the dozens of priests and bishops concelebrating with the Holy Father.

After Mass, I talked to an American journalist who writes for the Jordan Times. The reporter was impressed with the high energy of the Mass — a rarity in this predominantly Muslim country. It was truly a celebration of Jordanian Catholicism, leaving enduring memories for thousands of the country’s faithful.

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The promised land

Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years before he saw the Promised Land. It took me almost 41. But my wanderings haven’t all been in the desert. Earlier today, about 150 people — media, guests, and clergy — gathered atop Jordan’s Mt. Nebo where Moses gazed out upon the Dead See and the land God had promised. As we waited for Pope Benedict to arrive, I looked out upon the land below and imagined what Moses felt after completing his earthly journey knowing that God had been faithful to his promise.

The media and honored guests waited in the ruins of a 6th-century church honoring Moses. It had replaced a 4th century church. When John Paul II visited Mt. Nebo in 2000, the church had a temporary roof and was functioning. Today, the roof and most of the support structure had been removed for a substantial restoration effort. The media perched upon dusty ancient walls and scrambled for the best vantage point to view the Holy Father give his speech.

Pope Benedict prepares to address pilgrims and media atop Jordan's Mt Nebo

Pope Benedict prepares to address pilgrims and media atop Jordan's Mt Nebo

When Pope Benedict arrived, shortly after 9 am, he was greeted with sustained applause. The brief service included a reading from Deuteronomy, recalling how Moses had seen the promised land, died, and was buried on the very mountain were on — 700 meters above the plain below.

The Holy Father said, “It is appropriate that my pilgrimage should begin on this mountain.” This holy place, he said, should remind all Christians to “undertake a daily exodus from sin and slavery to life and freedom.

“The magnificent prospect which opens up from the esplanade of this shrine invites us to ponder how that prophetic vision mysteriously embraced the great plan of salvation which God prepared for his people,” he said.

“Like Moses, we too have been called by name, invited to undertake a daily exodus from sin and slavery  towards life and freedom, and given an unshakeable promise to guide our journey. In the waters of Baptism, we have passed from the slavery of sin to new life and hope.”

Pope Benedict gazes upon "the promised land" where Moses once stood atop Jordan's Mt Nebo

Pope Benedict gazes upon "the promised land" where Moses once stood atop Jordan's Mt Nebo

The Holy Father then walked 100 yards to a viewing platform and spent five minutes taking in view of the land bordering Israel, under the towering Brazen Serpent sculpture by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni, before departing in the Popemobile.

After the Pope departed, I took my turn at the platform. I’ll post a photo when I have a few more minutes. Needless to say, the view is spectacular. Despite the years that have passed since Moses stood here, only one winding road has marred the landscape. Otherwise, it must have looked much as it does today. I’m confident that Moses left this spot confident that God had indeed been faithful and kept his promise. I couldn’t help but do the same.

…..

On Saturday afternoon, about 60 journalists boarded buses to St. George Melkite Cathedral in Amman. After waiting for about 90 minutes, the Holy Father arrived around 5:30 pm for a vespers service. From my perch in the choir loft, we had a phenomenal view of the fervent crowd of about 400 Greek Catholics gathered for the event. They greeted the Pope with incredible enthusiasm, testing the security details ability to keep him from being mobbed.

Pope Benedict prepares to address the faithful at St. George Melkite Cathedral in Amman, Jordan, on May 9.

Pope Benedict prepares to address the faithful at St. George Melkite Cathedral in Amman, Jordan, on May 9.

The hour-long service included heavenly music from several choirs who chanted and sang in Latin, Greek, and Arabic. The dignitaries included members of the Roman Curia — Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal John Foley — and Orthodox Archbishop Benediktos Tsikoras as well leaders of a string of Eastern churches in union with Rome.

The Holy Father expressed his sincere thanks for the “opportunity to pray with you and to experience something of the richness of our liturgical traditions.”

“The Church herself is a pilgrim people and thus, through the centuries, has been marked by determinant historical events and pervading cultural epochs,” the Pope remarked. “Sadly, some of these have included times of theological dispute or periods of repression.”

“Others, however, have been moments of reconciliation — marvelously strengthening the communion of the Church — and times of rich cultural revival, to which Eastern Christians have contributed so greatly,” he continued.

Pope Benedict blesses the faithful gathered for vespers at St. George Melkite Cathedral in Amman, Jordan, on May 9.

Pope Benedict blesses the faithful gathered for vespers at St. George Melkite Cathedral in Amman, Jordan, on May 9.

“Particular Churches,” the Pope explained, “within the universal Church attest to the dynamism of her earthly journey and manifest to all members of the faithful a treasure of spiritual, liturgical, and ecclesiastical traditions which point to God’s universal goodness and his will, seen throughout history, to draw all into his divine life.”

As he left the cathedral, the devoted pilgrims again tested security in what, at times, seemed like a bit of a shoving match. However, the Pope seemed unfazed by the adulation as he beamed with joy and stretched to touch as many as he could. His Sunday Mass at Amman’s largest stadium will give even more of the faithful the opportunity to see the Pilgrim Pope.

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Cardinal Bevilacqua addresses Notre Dame controversy

Legatus’ Ecclesiastical Advisor, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, has just released his April 8 letter to Notre Dame University President Fr. John Jenkins.Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua & Fr. John Jenkins CSC

The Cardinal’s office gave permission for me to make the letter public. The letter is posted in its entirety below and without comment as it speaks for itself.

April 8, 2009

Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear Father Jenkins:

It was with great distress that I learned of the invitation from the University of Notre Dame to President Barack Obama to speak at this year’s commencement and to be given an honorary degree. While one may understand an invitation to President Obama to engage him in conversation on creating a culture of life, it is not appropriate for him to speak at the commencement exercises of a Catholic university, nor should he receive an honorary degree. Such actions cause confusion among faithful Catholics and send a mixed message regarding the clear Magisterium of the Catholic Church on life issues.

It is my hope and prayer that the University of Notre Dame will rescind the invitation to President Obama to speak at the commencement and withhold the conferral of an honorary degree to him or to anyone who so blatantly disregards the basic moral principles upon which the United States of America was founded.

Please be assured of a special remembrance in my thoughts and prayers for you and all at the University of Notre Dame. May Mary our Mother guide you as you strive to provide the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church to the students at Notre Dame.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia

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